WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - An investigation by the Justice Department's internal watchdog found former FBI Director James Comey deviated from bureau and department norms during the investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while Secretary of State but determined his actions were not politically motivated.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz claimed in a report released Thursday that Comey's decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.
Comey drew criticism from both sides of the aisle for publicly announcing Clinton would not face criminal charges for mishandling classified information before later revealing the investigation had been re-opened just days before the election.
The report was also highly critical of political text messages sent between former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok.
The inspector general found that the political bias displayed by Page and Strzok did not directly affect specific investigative actions but claimed their conduct cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation and sowed doubt about the bureau's work.
President Donald Trump has been eagerly awaiting the inspector general's report amid expectations that it would provide justification for his firing of Comey last year.
Trump and his allies have also reportedly been hoping the report will undermine faith in the FBI and the Justice Department amid the ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
In a statement, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said he is 'alarmed, angered, and deeply disappointed' by the inspector general's findings.
'The FBI's actions and those of former Director Comey severely damaged the credibility of the investigation, the public's ability to rely on the results of the investigation, and the very institutions he claims to revere,' Gowdy said.
He added, 'This is not the FBI I know. This is not the FBI our country needs. This is not the FBI citizens and suspects alike deserve.'
Gowdy called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and current FBI Director Christopher Wray to take decisive action to restore confidence in the justice system.
In an interview with The Hill ahead of the release of the report, Sessions indicated that the inspector general's findings could lead to more firings.
'If anyone else shows up in this report to have done something that requires termination we will do so,' Sessions said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Congressmen Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., claimed the report shows Comey helped Trump win the election over Clinton.
'The stark conclusion we draw after reviewing this report is that the FBI's actions helped Donald Trump become President,' said Nadler and Cummings, the top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee, respectively.
They added, 'As we warned before the election, Director Comey had a double-standard: he spoke publicly about the Clinton investigation while keeping secret from the American people the investigation of Donald Trump and Russia.'
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