The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is launching a broad review of how the FBI handled its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, reports Politico. The review’s scope includes allegations that FBI Director James Comey violated established procedures when he publicly discussed the bureau’s findings and when he sent Congress updates shortly before the election about new evidence agents had discovered. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said his investigation will also explore whether FBI and main Justice Department employees improperly leaked information prior to the election. Clinton and her campaign aides have blamed Comey’s pre-election revelation that he was reviving the email investigation as a key factor in her narrow loss to Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Comey said he welcomes Horowitz’s probe. “I am grateful to the Department of Justice’s IG for taking on this review. He is professional and independent and the FBI will cooperate fully with him and his office,” Comey said. Comey has said he delivered his July briefing on the FBI’s findings in the Clinton email probe without coordinating his statement with Justice Department leaders. He’s defended his statement as appropriate given the public’s questions about the handling of such a high-profile, politically-charged inquiry. Some Justice Department officials complained that his actions violated the usual practice of saying little about an investigation being closed without charges. Clinton allies also faulted Comey for publicly lambasting Clinton for being “extremely careless” with classified information, even as he said criminal charges were unwarranted.