Inspector General Says Comey Blew It

Jeff Malet/ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

The 500-page (!) inspector general’s report on the FBI’s conduct during the 2016 presidential campaign will be released in a few hours, but I probably won’t have time to get to it today. Luckily, the New York Times has gotten a sneak peek:

The former F.B.I. director James B. Comey was insubordinate in his handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, a critical Justice Department report has concluded, according to officials and others who saw or were briefed on it.

But the report, by the department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, does not challenge the decision not to prosecute Mrs. Clinton. Nor does it conclude that political bias at the F.B.I. influenced that decision, the officials said.

“We found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations,” the report said, according to one official who read the sentence to The New York Times. “Rather, we concluded that they were based on the prosecutor’s assessment of facts, the law, and past department practice.”

I assume that questioning the decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton is beyond the scope of the IG’s remit. At least, I hope it is. But I don’t think it matters. Puerile chants of “Lock her up!” notwithstanding, it’s abundantly clear that Clinton did nothing seriously wrong. The FBI’s own reports leave no real doubt about that.

Beyond that, I’ll be curious to see if the IG draws the obvious conclusion about Comey’s conduct: it probably wasn’t motivated by crude political bias, but it was motivated by a fear of Republican reprisals. It was clear from the start that congressional Republicans wanted blood, and Comey felt like he had to deliver some to keep the FBI out of their crosshairs. Republicans worked the refs ceaselessly, and it worked out spectacularly for them.

Anyway, now we get to look forward to Donald Trump crowing about this, even though he egged on Comey’s actions and they were responsible for his election victory. I’m not sure I can stand that, so it’s just as well that I won’t be around this afternoon.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend