As with every other issue inside the Beltway in these fractious times, the reaction to yesterday’s long-awaited release of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on how the FBI handled the Hillary Clinton emails investigation varies markedly with the reactor. Those on the Right argue that the IG was far too restrained in his criticism of key players in this drama, which means we can assume that those on the Left are tickled pink by the report.
The Democratic leaders in Congress headed by Sen. Chuck Schumer held a press conference to share their impressions as a single political entity. As they entered the room where the press was assembled, a visual aid awaited on a tripod next to the podium. It was a placard from Page VII of the report reading:
We found no evidence that the conclusions by Department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of the facts, the law, and past Department practice.
Schumer needn’t have opened his mouth. The message on the tripod already revealed everything he and his fellow cronies had to say about the investigation.
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An op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post carried the equally optimistic headline “The Justice Department’s inspector general deserves some credit.” The author, Harry Litman teaches constitutional law at the University of California at San Diego and was a deputy assistant attorney general in Bill Clinton’s Justice Department. In the article, he writes:
While Horowitz, importantly, found that Comey’s improprieties were not the result of political bias, he nevertheless concluded that “the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the Department as fair administrators of justice.”
Wherever he is Comey’s wrist must still be smarting from that slap.
Another, more substantive, opinion is offered by Harvard Professor of Law Emeritus Alan Dershowtiz at Fox News. In his post-mortem, titled “DOJ watchdog should have been much tougher on Comey,” Dershowitz raises an extremely interesting point:
The report made public is apparently a revised version of an earlier draft written by Horowitz. It is imperative that Congress and the public get to see the first draft as well as the final product, in order to determine whether there have been significant changes – and if so, whether they were motivated by political considerations or basic fairness.
The rules of the Justice Department provide that anyone criticized in an IG report has the right to suggest factual corrections. That seems fair, and if that is all that was done, there should be no complaints. But if the published draft improperly whitewashed any individuals or scrubbed any valid criticisms, we have a right to know. [Emphasis added]
Indeed, there is much that we, the American people, have a right to know, including why the inspector general slow-rolled the release of the report, and why — as J.E. Dyer asks in regard to the delay in the release of Anthony Weiner’s laptop — the FBI didn’t assign the Clinton case to a field office if the bureau was short on manpower because of the Russia-Trump probe, as they intimate.