- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2018

The FBI missed critical text messages showing top employees’ anti-Trump bias, and it took investigators three attempts and the use of Defense Department technology to uncover them, the Justice Department inspector general told senators Monday.

Michael Horowitz, who led an 18-month investigation into the FBI’s handling of its probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, said they found major problems with the bureau’s systems, and they have serious doubts that they’ve yet found all of the messages suggesting bias on the part of top people involved with the Clinton investigation.

Mr. Horowitz also said he was stunned that fired FBI Director James B. Comey was using a personal email account to do government business at the same time he was investigating Mrs. Clinton for essentially the same offense. And while they haven’t found any classified information in messages sent from Mr. Comey’s personal account yet, they never got access to his account and had to take his word for it.

“I can’t sit here today beyond what we looked at and say precisely what other purposes he may have used it for,” Mr. Horowitz told Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Grassley has asked for a full probe into Mr. Comey’s emails, calling it “disturbing” he would violate government policy by doing business on a personal account.

Monday’s hearing was called to go over the 500-page report Mr. Horowitz released last week finding the FBI and Justice Department bungled many decisions during the Clinton investigation.

He concluded Mr. Comey was “insubordinate” when he defied his Justice Department superiors and publicly criticized — then exonerated — Mrs. Clinton; he further goofed in announced he’d reopened the case in October 2016, just ahead of the election; his agents violated practice by allowing two of Mrs. Clinton’s associates who helped delete her email messages sit in on the FBI’s interview with her; and then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch was weak in both her recusal decisions and in not reining Mr. Comey in.

Mr. Horowitz said he didn’t find evidence any of those decisions was motivated by political bias, though he did say bias may have played a role in prioritizing the Russia investigation over the email probe in October 2016.

Much of Monday’s hearing was spent sparring over Mr. Comey’s reputation, as both sides appeared to be looking ahead to the fired FBI director’s role in the ongoing special counsel investigation into Trump campaign contacts with Russian operatives.

Democrats said since there was no finding Mr. Comey allowed political bias to infect his decisions, he remains an impeccable witness.

“I have seen no evidence Mr. Comey acts din bad faith or that he lied about any of his actions,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the committee.

Republicans countered that Mr. Comey’s reputation was in tatters, and suggested his firing by President Trump last year was justified by the harsh report.

They also couldn’t abide Mr. Horowitz’s conclusion that the Clinton investigation was free of biased decisions.

Sen. Lindsey Graham read aloud a number of text messages between Peter Strzok, the lead investigator in the Clinton matter who was also on the Russia probe at first, and Lisa Page, his paramour and an FBI lawyer until she resigned last month.

Among those was the message Mr. Horowitz finally recovered last month, 17 months into the investigation, where Mr. Strzok said they would “stop” Mr. Trump from winning the White House.

Mr. Graham also pointed to Mr. Comey’s decision to alter language in his exoneration statement. He deleted his accusation that she was guilty of gross negligence — which would have met the criminal threshold — and instead called her extremely careless.

The South Carolina Republican demanded Mr. Horowitz reopen the probe.

“I’m not buying that the Clinton email investigation was on the up and up,” he said.

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