Donald Trump

Trump says watchdog report ‘total disaster’ for FBI and Comey

US president says he did a ‘great service’ for his country by firing the former bureau chief

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 June, 2018, 9:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 June, 2018, 10:35pm

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that a watchdog’s report into the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation is a “total disaster” for former FBI director James Comey and the agency itself.

“The IG Report is a total disaster for Comey, his minions and sadly, the FBI,” Trump tweeted in his first public comment on the Justice Department inspector general report, which was released on Thursday. “Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI. I did a great service to the people in firing him. Good Instincts.”

The Justice Department’s long-awaited report found Comey was “insubordinate” in his handling of the Clinton email inquiry, but claimed there was no evidence of political bias in deciding not to prosecute the former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate for mishandling official email.

Comey and the FBI were heavily faulted in the report, with Comey seen as repeatedly skirting agency rules and procedures – and two agents under him revealing in personal messages a “willingness to take official action to impact” Trump’s election chances.

On Friday, Trump wrote : “FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who headed the Clinton & Russia investigations, texted to his lover Lisa Page, in the IG Report, that ‘we’ll stop’ candidate Trump from becoming President. Doesn’t get any lower than that!”

Strzok and FBI lawyer Page both worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

The watchdog said those messages sullied the FBI’s reputation and “cast a cloud” over its investigation into Clinton’s emails.

They have also given Republicans ample fodder to criticise the Clinton investigation, which eventually cleared her, and to question the Russia probe.

“Peter Strzok should not have a job anywhere near our Justice Department,” said Representative Mark Meadows, a Republican who is close to Trump, after a briefing on the report. The House Judiciary Committee said on Thursday it would subpoena Strzok to testify.

“Although we acknowledge that Comey faced a difficult situation with unattractive choices, in proceeding as he did, we concluded that Comey made a serious error of judgment,” the internal report said of one key moment in the Clinton probe.

Even so, the report found no fault in Comey’s July 5, 2016 decision that Clinton should not face prosecution for placing classified materials on her personal email server while she was secretary of state.

According to the report, Comey himself used a private email account for FBI business – the irony of which was not lost on Clinton.

“But my emails,” she wrote on Twitter, responding to a tweet about the report.

Trump has repeatedly said a biased Justice Department and FBI let Clinton off easily. He made “lock her up” a chant in his election rallies.

Within months of becoming president, Trump fired Comey in May 2017.

Trump’s supporters seized on the report. Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, said on Thursday: “Mueller should be suspended and honest people should be brought in. Strzok should be in jail by next week.”

Comey defended his actions in a piece published by the New York Times on Thursday, saying: “Nothing in the inspector general’s report makes me think we did the wrong thing.”

Additional reporting by The Guardian