- President Donald Trump’s main talking point about a recently released report about the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation is that it “exonerates” him in the Russia investigation.
- DOJ officials pushed back against that claim, telling lawmakers that the report does not focus on Russia, collusion, or the special counsel Robert Mueller.
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President Donald Trump’s primary talking point since the Department of Justice Department released a bombshell report about the Hillary Clinton email investigation was that it freed from from any guilt in the Russia investigation.
“I think that the report yesterday, maybe more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me,” Trump told reporters on Friday. “There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And if you read the report, you’ll see that.”
DOJ officials contested that characterization during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.
“We did not look into collusion questions,” inspector general Michael Horowitz told lawmakers. “We did not address the credibility of the special counsel’s investigation here.”
FBI director Christopher Wray agreed.
“I don’t think this report speaks to the special counsel investigation,” he told the panel.
Last week’s report focuses largely on the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business while she was secretary of state.
Among other things, the report faulted then-FBI director James Comey for breaking DOJ protocol, and FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for exchanging politically charged texts that showed anti-Trump and pro-Clinton bias. It also found that Comey was using a personal Gmail account to manage official FBI business while overseeing the Clinton probe.
Though Horowitz sharply criticised senior leadership at the FBI over its management of the investigation, he found no evidence that “improper considerations” or political bias affected the ultimate outcome.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers promptly seized on the report after its release to further their own talking points.
Conservatives used Horowitz’s findings to justify Comey’s ouster and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Russia investigation, even though it was not the subject of the report.
Liberals focused on Horowitz’s conclusion that the FBI’s assessment in the Clinton email investigation was not tainted by political bias or corruption. They also accused Republicans of using the report to distract from the Russia probe.
Horowitz is set to testify before the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees on Tuesday, where lawmakers will grill him on the report’s findings.
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