The Justice Department inspector general’s office released a 500-page report late last week that is as noteworthy for what it hoses down as for anything it ignites.
Both before and after its release, President Donald Trump and subordinates hyped the report. They cried of intrigue against Trump, and even contrived an argument that it damages the special counsel’s Russia probe.
But Trump’s hand-picked FBI director, Christopher Wray, said Friday: “This report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper considerations actually impacting the investigation under review.
“The report does identify errors of judgment, violations of or even disregard for policy, and decisions that at the very least — with the benefit of hindsight — were not the best choices.”
Ex-FBI Director James Comey, fired last year by Trump, was criticized in the report by IG Michael Horowitz. Five FBI officials who dissed Trump privately before his election (as did millions of other Americans) face possible disciplinary action.
Those aspects of the report have been widly played up as the highlights.
But the report:
- Does nothing to impugn the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of a Russian role in the elections.
Didn’t find Hillary Clinton got away with anything criminal or that the timing and handling of her FBI interview was wrong.
Didn’t find Trump was at any point a victim of FBI machinations against him -- and indicated the agents’ anti-Trump messages, unbecoming as they were, had no practical impact.
Didn’t find Comey broke laws when he took the “insubordinate” and “extraordinary” action of reopening of the Clinton email probe shortly before the election.
Didn’t find ex-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s performance blameless, faulting her for her extended airplane visit with ex-President Bill Clinton.
Didn’t find Lynch and Clinton talked about the email case.
Didn’t challenge the FBI staffers’ right to their opinions about Trump’s campaign performance even if messages to that effect shouldn’t have been sent on government devices.
Didn’t find Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted under any of the five statutes investigators considered.
Found no evidence that the late reopening of the Clinton email probe was put off due to the Russia-meddling probe.
Found former deputy director Andrew McCabe didn’t break any FBI rules by not recusing himself from the Clinton probe after his wife was backed by a big Clinton ally in a state senate race.
Doesn’t pave a clear path toward any prosecutions against officials or ex-officials.
Much as they hyped the report, the Trump defense team, peddling the Great Conspiracy Against Trump canard, will need a lot more that its text to match it with any semblance of reality.
Will Trump try to fire Wray and Horowitz next for not giving him what he wanted?