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Peter Hasson, DCNF
Former FBI Director James Comey is at odds with three key figures over the Obama Department of Justice’s (DOJ) handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein have all found themselves at odds with Comey over events related to the Clinton investigation.
Comey vs. Lynch
Comey has repeatedly knocked Lynch’s actions during the Clinton investigation and blamed her for his decision to publicly announce the results of the investigation.
He said “the unverified material would undoubtedly have been used by political opponents to cast serious doubt on the attorney general’s independence in connection with the Clinton investigation.”
Comey cited the information — a “development still unknown to the American public to this day” — as his reason for taking a more public role in the Clinton investigation, rather than deferring to Lynch.
Comey testified last June that he believed Lynch had a “conflict of interest” in the Clinton investigation, and that he thought she should have recused herself from the investigation.
He also testified that Lynch told him to downplay the Clinton investigation and inaccurately refer to it as a “matter,” instead of as an investigation. The directive “concerned me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning,” Comey said.
He reiterated that account in his interview with ABC News on Sunday night. Comey asked for an explanation, he said, but Lynch wouldn’t give him one. He expressed regret on Sunday for so quickly complying with Lynch’s directive. “Given that I respect Loretta, I probably should’ve pushed harder in the moment,” he said.
Lynch defended herself in a statement on Sunday and knocked Comey for not coming to her with his concerns about the investigation.
“Throughout the process I did what I always do: rise above politics and uphold the law. At no time did I ever discuss any aspect of the investigation with anyone from the Clinton campaign or the DNC,” Lynch said.
“I have known James Comey almost 30 years. Throughout his time as Director we spoke regularly about some of the most sensitive issues in law enforcement and national security. If he had any concerns regarding the email investigation, classified or not, he had ample opportunities to raise them with me both privately and in meetings. He never did.”
Comey v. McCabe
McCabe repeatedly misled Comey about a leak to the Wall Street Journal that McCabe authorized, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a report that came out on Friday.
The deputy director repeatedly misled federal investigators about his role in the leak, as well about his misleading statements to Comey, the IG report said. The leak was “designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership,” the report said.
McCabe has said that Comey was aware of the leak to the Journal, which appears to clash with Comey’s testimony that he never authorized a leak to the media about the investigation.
McCabe’s lawyer slammed the IG report, which he claimed gave Comey more credibility than it should have.
The report portrayed Comey as a “white knight carefully guarding FBI information while overlooking that Mr. McCabe’s account is more credible,” McCabe’s attorney claimed.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe last month on the recommendation of both the IG and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).
Comey vs. Rosenstein
Comey trashed Rosenstein in his interview with ABC News, even going so far as to compare Rosenstein to a mob underling.
The reason? Rosenstein recommended that Trump fire Comey over his handling of the Clinton email investigation. (Trump later said he fired Comey over the Russia investigation.)
“The deputy attorney general, in my view, had acted dishonorably by putting out this pretext about why I was fired,” Comey said. Comey now considers Rosenstein to be part of a mafia-style family, headed by Trump. “He’s part of the family now. I can’t trust him,” Comey said.
Rosenstein slammed Comey’s leadership last May in a memo to Sessions that called for Comey’s firing.
“Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives. The way (Comey) handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong,” Rosenstein wrote.
“As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them.”
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