Today, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General released the findings from its investigation of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and the Justice Department and FBI’s actions during the 2016 presidential election. This investigation marks the first time a non-political, independent office has examined, analyzed, and published conclusions about the issue, and therefore its findings deserve serious consideration by the Justice Department, Congress, and the American public.
POGO Director of Investigations Nick Schwellenbach released the following statement on today’s report:
It takes a village to produce screwups of this magnitude. Bad decisions begat more bad decisions, culminating in Comey's decision to throw a Molotov cocktail into the political discourse on the eve of the 2016 election. While some decisions were simply unwise, others were improper, against agency policy, and unauthorized. Taken together, these actions damaged the credibility of the Justice Department and the FBI in an investigation that desperately needed to be beyond reproach. The impact of these choices reverberates to this day.
Justice Department and FBI leadership need to take a deep look inward and sort out how they should collaborate in high-profile, politically sensitive investigations. These agencies require clear, consistent, and rigorously followed rules that protect the political process, and ensure public confidence that law enforcement will never put its thumb on the scale. Constructive relationships with—and proper oversight from—Congress are critical to ensuring that these vital institutions are independent and credible, and that they act appropriately and do their jobs effectively—but the wind hasn't been blowing the right direction lately. This Inspector General report and next week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing should move us closer to fulfilling the public's demand for credible nonpartisan oversight.