UPDATE: Watchdog report faults Comey as 'insubordinate' in email probe

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on a report by the Justice Department's internal watchdog on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. (all times local):

Photo: ABC -- Cutout Photo: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

4:30 p.m.

In a revelation some Democrats see as ironic, the Justice Department's inspector general report about the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation says former Director James Comey occasionally used personal email for work.

In several instances Comey forwarded items to his personal account, including drafts of messages and other unclassified items.

When interviewed by the inspector general, Comey said he used it for word processing at home when he was writing something longer. He said it was "incidental" and he forwarded the emails to his government account.

Comey said he wasn't sure if that was in accordance with FBI regulations, but had checked it with another official and he "had the sense that it was okay."

The inspector general says he did not follow regulations.

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4:15 p.m.

A lawyer for FBI agent Peter Strzok says a watchdog's report shows his politics did not affect an investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails.

Strzok has come under fire for text messages critical of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. He left special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the election after the Justice Department's inspector general discovered the problematic texts in mid-2017.

On Thursday, a report by the inspector general revealed that Strzok had told an FBI lawyer "we'll stop" Trump from becoming president.

Strzok was also involved in the probe of Clinton's handling of classified emails that roiled the election.

Strzok's lawyer, Aitan Goelman, says Thursday's report reveals no evidence that the FBI agent's political views affected the handling of the Clinton investigation.

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3:20 p.m.

The White House says a report by the Justice Department's watchdog on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation is reaffirming President Donald Trump's "suspicions" about former FBI Director James Comey's conduct.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the inspector general's report is also reaffirming Trump's suspicions about the "political bias among some of the members of the FBI." She is deferring additional comments to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The report says Comey was "insubordinate" in his conduct of the probe, but it didn't find he was motivated by political bias.

Sanders says Trump was briefed on the report's findings earlier in the day.

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2:55 p.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says he disagrees with some of the conclusions of the Justice Department's inspector general about his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

But Comey says in a tweet that he respects the inspector general's work and believes the conclusions are "reasonable." He says "people of good faith" can see the "unprecedented situation differently."

Comey's comments come in response to the public release of a report that is heavily critical of his decisions in the probe. The report says Comey was insubordinate and departed from established protocol numerous times.

The report does find that Comey's actions were not politically motivated to help either candidate.

Comey also wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times responding to the report's findings.

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2:40 p.m.

An FBI investigator who worked on probes into Hillary Clinton's emails and into Russian interference in the 2016 election told an FBI lawyer "we'll stop" Donald Trump from becoming president.

The inflammatory texts between Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page are highlighted in the report by the Justice Department's inspector general, which is critical of former FBI director James Comey's handling of the investigations.

According to the report, Page texted Strzok in August 2016: "(Trump's) not ever going to become president, right? Right?!"

Strzok responded: "No. No he won't. We'll stop it."

The report says the watchdog "did not find documentary or testimonial evidence" that political bias directly affected parts of the probe, it says Page and Strzok's conduct "cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation."

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2:05 p.m.

The Justice Department has issued a stinging rebuke to the FBI for its handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

The report released Thursday calls former FBI Director James Comey "insubordinate" and says his actions were "extraordinary."

But the report, by the department's watchdog, does not find evidence that Comey was motivated by political bias or preference in his decisions.

The report criticized Comey for publicly announcing his recommendation against criminal charges for Clinton. It also faulted him for alerting Congress days before the 2016 election that the investigation was being reopened because of newly discovered emails.

President Donald Trump has been eager for the report in hopes that it would vindicate his decision to fire Comey and undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

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12:15 p.m.

The Justice Department's watchdog faults former FBI Director James Comey for breaking with established protocol in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But it found that his decisions were not driven by political bias.

The report also criticizes Comey for not keeping then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other Justice Department superiors properly informed about his handling of the investigation.

That's according to a person familiar with the report's conclusions who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The person was not authorized to speak on the record because the report is not yet public.

The report's findings are set to be made public later Thursday. It represents the culmination of an 18-month review into one of the most consequential FBI investigations in recent history.

__ Chad Day in Washington

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11:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is bashing the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling as a "pile of garbage" ahead of the release of a highly anticipated report looking into the Justice Department's conduct during the 2016 election.

Trump says in a pair of tweets that now that he's back from his summit with North Korea, "the thought process must sadly go back to the Witch Hunt."

Trump is yet again insisting there was "No Collusion and No Obstruction of the fabricated No Crime" and is accusing Democrats of making up "a phony crime," paying "a fortune to make the crime sound real," and then "Collud(ing) to make this pile of garbage take on life in Fake News!"

The report by the Justice Department's internal watchdog is being released Tuesday afternoon and is expected to criticize the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

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In a stinging report, the Justice Department watchdog said Thursday that former FBI Director James Comey was "insubordinate" in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the 2016 presidential election. But it also concluded there was no evidence that Comey was motivated by political bias.

President Donald Trump has looked to the hotly anticipated report to provide a fresh line of attack against Comey and the FBI as he claims that a politically tainted bureau tried to undermine his campaign and — through the later Russia investigation — his presidency.

Clinton and her supporters, on the other hand, have complained that Comey's later announcement, shortly before the election, that the investigation was being reopened badly hurt her chances to defeat her Republican rival.

But the nuanced findings provide no conclusions to support either Republicans or Democrats who want to claim total vindication.

The inspector general's report concluded that Comey, who announced in the summer of 2016 that Clinton would not be charged with any crime in the email probe, departed from normal Justice Department protocol numerous times.

But it also says, "We found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutors' assessment of the facts, the law and past department practice."

Trump is certain to try to use the report to validate his firing of Comey last year, an act that is central to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether the president sought to obstruct justice.

But the report will likely deny the president a favored talking point that the FBI favored Clinton over him and that its leaders were driven by politics. It does not second-guess the FBI's conclusion that Clinton should not have been prosecuted, despite repeated assertions by Trump and his supporters that anyone less politically connected than she would have been charged.

The conclusions were contained in a 500-page report that document in painstaking detail one of the most consequential investigations in modern FBI history and reveal how the bureau, which for decades has endeavored to stand apart from politics, came to be entangled in the 2016 presidential election.

The report alleges a long series of misjudgments that Democrats will likely use to support their belief that Clinton was wronged by the FBI.

The watchdog faults Comey for his unusual July 5, 2016, news conference at which he disclosed his recommendation against bringing charges. Charging announcements are normally made by the Justice Department, not the FBI. Cases that end without charges are rarely discussed publicly.

In this instance, Comey said that the FBI found Clinton and her aides to be "extremely careless" in handling classified material but "no reasonable prosecutor" could have brought a case against her. At a congressional hearing last May, he said he was concerned that the Justice Department itself could not "credibly" announce the conclusion of its investigation, in part because then-attorney general, Loretta Lynch, had met aboard her plane with former President Bill Clinton.

Also criticized was Comey's decision, against the recommendation of the Justice Department, to reveal to Congress that the FBI was reopening the investigation following the discovery of new emails.

The FBI obtained a warrant nine days before the presidential election to review those emails, found on the laptop of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, and ultimately determined that there was nothing in them that changed its original conclusion.

The inspector general also faulted the FBI for failing to act with more urgency in reviewing emails from Weiner's laptop.

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Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.






 
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