Can someone stop Hillary Clinton?

Hillary Clinton's email affair investigation: FBI Director Comey acted disobedient

A report of the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mail affair ahead of the presidential election finds no evidence of political intentions by then-FBI Director Comey. But other findings are not very flattering for the Federal Police.

Former FBI director James Comey behaved "insubordinately" when investigating Hillary Clinton's email affair. He deviated "clearly and dramatically" from long-established norms, damaging the reputation of the FBI and the Justice Department. However, there is no evidence that there was a political motive for this behavior.

No "smoking gun"

This is essentially the result of a long-awaited investigation by the Inspector General (IG), the regulatory agency in the US Department of Justice. The report, which the IG office published on Thursday afternoon (local time) in Washington, focuses on the critical months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, when, according to the supporters of President Donald Trump, the real scandal occurred. The supervisory authority does not present a “smoking gun”, ie proof that Comey pursued political intentions in the Clinton investigation and, in particular, sought to prevent the election of Trump.

But the report makes it clear that certain FBI employees in messages they exchanged with each other expressed a totally inadmissible support for Clinton and, in one case, even a willingness to influence the outcome of the presidential election, which was diametrically opposed to the principles of the Federal Police stand.

"We will stop him"

At the same time, the investigation has revealed no evidence that this apparent partiality on the part of a key FBI agent interfered with the investigation into the email affair. In contrast, the IG believes that the agent in question, for political reasons, gave more weight to the investigation into the Russia affair shortly before the election than to that of the email affair.

The agent in question is the well-known Peter Strzok, who was removed from the investigative team of special investigator Robert Mueller after some of his partisan text messages became known. According to the IG report, he wrote in such a message to a colleague with whom he had a love affair that a possible victory for Trump would not come about: "We will stop him." This is strong stuff, whatever you might think of the email affair.

Known for straightforwardness

The IG in the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz, was put into office by President Barack Obama in 2012. As an examining magistrate, he had already established the reputation of a straightforward investigator, which he maintained in his new office. He has previously investigated politically sensitive affairs, such as the completely unsuccessful operation “Fast and Furious” in 2014, in which the judicial authorities tried to spy on the trafficking routes of illegal arms dealers by selling firearms to middlemen. Most of these disappeared.

Much has been speculated that Trump will fire Horowitz if he does not bring him the desired results. He would be entitled to do so. The Inspector General, who watches over the orderly conduct of business in many ministries and agencies in the USA, is appointed by the President and has to be confirmed by the Senate.

The President and, in certain cases, the Head of Office can dismiss him. However, this has become increasingly rare, because such a measure naturally has the smell of wanting to sweep grievances under the rug. It has therefore recently become common for IG to decide for themselves when to resign. But that's an unwritten law that Trump doesn't have to adhere to. The only legal limitation on dismissal is that both houses of Congress must be given advance notice.

Far-reaching powers

There are currently 72 regular IGs spread across the entire federal administration. There is also a special IG for reconstruction in Afghanistan, which, however, did not have to be confirmed by the Senate. The institution was set up in 1978 with its own law to combat waste, abuse and fraud. The most important federal agencies should have permanent, impartial and independent supervisory bodies for this purpose. For this reason, the IG are outside the normal chain of command. Like every institution, that of the IG has expanded over time to include more and more areas of activity.

Under criminal law, IGs have the authority to request documents from their offices and to question federal employees who are currently on duty under threat of punishment. However, you then do not have the right to prosecute people. However, they can recommend in their reports whether someone should be held criminally accountable.