A US government watchdog says it will examine whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation followed proper procedures in its probe of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
The inspector general’s announcement comes amid outcry from Democrats who say Clinton’s election loss to Donald Trump was in part due to Comey’s bringing Clinton’s emails back into the public spotlight less than two weeks before the vote.
The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General said its probe would focus in part on decisions leading up to public communications by FBI director James Comey regarding the Clinton investigation, and whether underlying investigative decisions may have been based on “improper considerations.”
Although the FBI ultimately decided not to refer Clinton’s case for prosecution, Comey aroused suspicion that may have diminished trust in Clinton among voters.
The controversy involved Clinton’s use of a private email server for official correspondence when she was secretary of state under President Barack Obama, including for messages that were later determined to contain classified information.
Comey publicly announced the status of the agency’s investigation into Clinton’s emails two times in 2016.
In July, Comey held a press conference and testified before Congress to explain why the FBI had decided not to refer Clinton for prosecution, explaining that she was “extremely careless” but should not be charged with gross negligence or any other federal crime.
In October, less than two weeks before the November 8 election, Comey said the FBI was continuing the investigation because of new emails found on the computer of disgraced former politician Anthony Weiner, the husband of one of Clinton’s top aides.
On November 6, Comey said the investigation into Weiner’s computer produced no new evidence that would incriminate Clinton.
Brian Fallon, Clinton’s spokesman, told MSNBC on Thursday that Comey’s actions “cried out for an independent review.”