Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz says he will release an internal investigation into the FBI's handling of Hillary Clinton's emails in the next few weeks, and the report is expected to single out former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for criticism. McCabe stepped down in January, amid sharp criticism from President Trump and concerns sparked by Horowitz's coming report, and he's expected to retire after he becomes eligible on March 18. Horowitz will especially accuse McCabe of improperly disclosing information to The Wall Street Journal for a significant October 2016 article on the Clinton Foundation, The New York Times and The Washington Post report.
Trump is likely to use the inspector general report as "new ammunition to criticize" McCabe and the FBI, the Times says, but "McCabe's disclosures to the news media do not fit neatly into that assumption: They contributed to a negative article about Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration's Justice Department." The Journal article "came just as the FBI had reopened the Clinton email investigation on the eve of the presidential election — a matter that was separate from the Clinton Foundation case but had parallels in the way it was fraught with politics," the Post reports, and the Journal report "presents McCabe as a complicated figure," seen both blocking the Clinton Foundation inquiry and defending it.
McCabe is reportedly accused of authorizing a call with the Journal to present the FBI's side of the story, a common practice in the federal government but risky in law enforcement. Justice Department rules prohibit such background briefings to disclose confidential information, and Horowitz is expected to accuse McCabe of confirming the existence of a continuing investigation and possibly of misleading investigators about his actions. McCabe maintains he did nothing improper and did not purposefully mislead investigators. Peter Weber
Former FBI Director James Comey evidently walked back what was initially planned to be a much harsher condemnation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, The Associated Press reports, prompting the White House to claim Friday there is an "extreme bias" in the bureau against President Trump.
Comey's draft of his highly-scrutinized remarks on July 5, 2016 — obtained by the Republican chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — used language such as calling Clinton and her aides "grossly negligent." That phrasing was later changed to the now-famous declaration that Clinton was "extremely careless" with her emails, a shift in tone that eliminated "language also contained in the relevant criminal statute," AP writes.
In another case, Comey changed phrasing claiming that it was "reasonably likely" that a hostile entity had gained access to Clinton's server to "possible," and deleted a phrase about the "sheer volume" of classified information shared on the server. The Senate Homeland Security chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), said Comey's draft shows that he appeared to edit "the tone and substance" of his remarks. Johnson additionally requested FBI Director Chris Wray name the official who suggested the changes to Comey.
Separately, the Justice Department turned over to the House Intelligence Committee some 375 text messages on Tuesday between two FBI officials that referred to Trump as an "idiot" between Aug. 16, 2015, and Dec. 1, 2016. One of the officials, senior counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's relationship with Russia over the summer, immediately after such messages were discovered. The other, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, had already returned to the FBI.