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The Justice Department Inspector General says he will review how the FBI and Justice Department handled certain aspects of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
The probe by Michael E. Horowitz will include a review of FBI Director James Comey's news conference in July and his two letters to lawmakers in late October and early November.
"In response to requests from numerous Chairmen and Ranking Members of Congressional oversight committees, various organizations, and members of the public, the Office of the Inspector General will initiate a review of allegations regarding certain actions by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in advance of the 2016 election," the Justice Department said in a statement.
Just 11 days before the 2016 general election, Comey notified Congress that the FBI was reviewing a new batch of emails that appeared to be pertinent to their investigation. The emails, discovered during a probe, were found on a laptop that former New York congressman Anthony Weiner allegedly used to send lewd text messages and pictures to an underage girl.
Investigators also discovered Weiner's estranged wife, Huma Abedin, had used the same laptop to send emails to Clinton.
Ultimately, those emails were deemed unrelated to the Clinton email probe.
But Clinton and her surrogates felt the timing of Comey's announcement hurt her presidential bid.
Most recently Bill Clinton was more blunt while talking to shoppers in a local New York bookstore reportedly saying Comey "cost" her the election.
President-elect Donald Trump lauded Comey's actions at the time and said they "took guts."
According to a Justice Department statement, Horowitz will also examine:
- Allegations that the FBI Deputy Director should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters;
- Allegations that the Department’s Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign and/or should have been recused from participating in certain matters;
- Allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information; and
- Allegations that decisions regarding the timing of the FBI’s release of certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents on October 30 and November 1, 2016, and the use of a Twitter account to publicize same, were influenced by improper considerations.
Comey said he is "grateful" for the review.
"I am grateful to the Department of Justice's IG for taking on this review," Comey said in a statement. "He is professional and independent and the FBI will cooperate fully with him and his office. I hope very much he is able to share his conclusions and observations with the public because everyone will benefit from thoughtful evaluation and transparency regarding this matter."
The response to the review in political circles on Thursday afternoon was swift.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, tweeted "I support the Inspector General's review of what happened at the #DOJ and #FBI during the Clinton investigation."
Earlier in the week, Chaffetz vowed to continue the investigation into Clinton's private email server.
Trump has said he won't push for further investigation into Clinton's emails or the Clinton Foundation.
One of Clinton's top advisers, Joel Benenson called the review "appropriate" on Thursday adding "I don't know what took so long, I wish it had happened sooner."
Comey was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and made his first comments since the November election when he, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, Adm. Michael Rogers, the head of the NSA, and John Brennan, the CIA director, answered lawmakers' questions about Russian hacking and the presidential election.
He is scheduled to be back up on Capitol Hill later Thursday afternoon and again Friday morning to brief members of Congress on the classified report on Russia’s attempts to influence in the election.
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