tv Inspector General Report on Clinton Email Probe CSPAN June 19, 2018 1:06pm-1:46pm EDT
committee will come to order. inspector general mohorowitz, jt for your knowledge, the chairs and ranking members will give the opening statements. then you'll be introduced and recognized for your opening statement. what we're doing today does not happen everywhere. we're taking institutions with long and distinguished histories, institutions we need, institutions we rely upon, and we're applying scrutiny, review and inspection. we're testing, we're probing, we're challenging, we're even criticizing, and we're doing this because we need these institutions to be above reproach. we need them to be respected and trusted. we need them to be above bias, taint, and prejudice. we need these institutions to be fair, just, even-handed, proportional, and wholly immune from the vagaries of politics. that's what we expect and demand and need from the department of justice and the fbi, and those expectations should be consistently exacting, because the power we give prosecutors and law enforcement is an
awesome power. the power to prosecute, the power to charge, the power to indict is the power to impact reputations, it is the power to deprive people of their liberty, it is the power in some instances to even try to take the very life of a citizen. and we give police and prosecutors tremendous powers. and with those powers comes a corresponding expectation of fairness and just dealing. this inspector general's report should conjure anger, disappointment, and sadness in everyone who reads it. this ig report lays bear the bias, the animus, the prejudging of facts by senior fbi agents and senior attorneys, and attempts to minimize this bias are so anthetical to what we want and deserve in our law enforcement officers, and it's dangerous to the broader community. i've seen media efforts, and i've seen efforts from some, not all, but some of my democrat
colleagues, to shift the burden of bias on to those impacted by that bias, that it is somehow the responsibility of those affected by bias to show how that bias negatively impacted them. what a dangerous shifting of the burden. it is not the public's job to prove the bias shown by the fbi did not influence decision-making. it is the fbi's job to prove to the public that this manifest bias was not outcome determinative, and bias and fairness cannot coexist. that is why no lawyer seated up here today would ever allow a bias juror to sit on his or her jury. and no citizen would ever allow a bias police officer or judge to work on any matter of any significance. there is a presumption that bias is bad, and that is a presumption we should accept in nearly every single facet of life. as we read this report, we're
reminded of jim comey's decision to hold a july 5th press conference and appropriate the charging decision away from the prosecutors. we see jim comey drafting an exoneration memo before important witnesses, like the target, were even interviewed. ironically, this inspector general has been accused of softening or watering down his report, when the reality is, it was jim comey who softened and watered down his press release, announcing no charges against secretary clinton. we see jim comey and jim comey alone deciding which doj policies to follow and which to ignore. we see jim comey and jim comey alone deciding whether there is sufficient evidence to support each and every element of an offense. we see jim comey, jimmy comey alone, deciding whether to send a letter to congress in the throes of a looming election. his justification for this is that he did not have confidence in the objectivity of attorney general loretta lynch. whether it was her asking him to
refer to this case as a matter, rather than an investigation, or her meeting with bill clinton while hillary clinton was under investigation, or the matter he has alluded to but claims he cannot discuss publicly. clearly, jim comey had lost confidence in the doj to handle the case in the way worthy of public trust. but that leads us to the one thing we did not see jim comey do, which was take any steps to spur the appointment of special counsel in the hillary clinton investigation! when he lost confidence in the trump justice department, he memorialized private conversations, he leaked them, and he admitted he did so to spur the appointment of special counsel because he didn't trust the career prosecutors at the department of justice. when he lost confidence in the obama justice department, he didn't make special memos. he didn't share them with his law professor friends. he didn't leak the information. he didn't lift a finger to get
special prosecutor. instead, he appointed himself, fbi director, attorney general, special counsel, lead investigator, and the general orbiter of what is good and right in the world according to him. one of the last times i spoke with director comey was in a committee hearing. we had a pointed exchange on what i thought was the fbi making decisions based in part on politics. and he in his typically sanctimonious way told me that he disagreed. he said the men and women of the fbi do not, quote, give a hoot about politics. unfortunately, and i use that word intentionally, unfortunately, he was dead wrong. there were agents and attorneys at the fbi who gave a lot more than a hoot about politics. there's andy mccabe, the former deputy director and acting director of the fbi, an agency which investigates and charges others for making false statement, himself accused of making false statements and showing a lack of candor.
i think i recall, perhaps someone can correct me, but i think i recall some of my democrat colleagues falling over themselves, offered a job to andy mccabe when he was let go for making false statements and for a lack of candor, but those same colleagues apparently weren't hiring. they didn't have any openings when others in a related investigation called russia were charged with the same offense. there were fbi agents and attorneys who decided to prejudge the outcome of the hillary clinton case before the investigation ended. i want you to let that sink in for a second. they prejudged the outcome of the hillary clinton investigation before the investigation ended, and these exact same fbi agents and attorneys prejudged the outcome of the russia investigation before it even began! if prejudging the outcome of an investigation before it ends and prejudging the outcome of an investigation before it begins is not evidence of outcome determinative of bias, for the life of me, i don't know what
would be. that is textbook bias. it is quite literally the definition of bias. allowing something other than the facts to determine your decision. these agents were calling her president before she was even interviewed. they were calling for the end of the trump campaign before the investigation even began. they were calling for impeachment simply because he happened to be elected. that is bias. and with all due respect, it's the fbi's job, not mine, to prove that bias can ever be harmless, because i don't agree. i think bias is always harmful. so, we'll spend a day on a small in number but significant in leadership group of doj and fbi officials, officials who had leadership and supervisory roles in the clinton and russia investigations and who failed to meet the basic expectations of fundamental fairness. but there are tens of thousands of fbi agents and doj employees
who do meet our exacting expectations, and we will not be calling their names today, unfortunately, because we don't do ig investigations on agents and prosecutors who do their jobs with character and professionalism. to those agents and prosecutors who do the right thing the right way and for the right reasons, we'll get through this. it will be tough and it will be difficult, but we will emerge on the other side with a stronger fbi and a stronger department of justice because we have to. we cannot have a justice system that bases decisions on anything other than facts. to our fellow citizens watching at home, be unrelenting in your expectations of our justice system. never lower those expectations. respect for the rule of law is the thread that holds the tapestry of this country together, and it depends upon you having confidence in those you empower to enforce the law. and importantly, do not ever accept the notion that those
victimized or impacted or negatively treated because of bias or prejudgment have any burden of proving harm. bias is intrinsically harmful. it is the making up of your mind based on anything other than the facts. we use a blindfolded woman holding a set of scales to symbolize what we want in a justice system, and there is nothing more anthetical to justice than lowering that blindfold and making up your mind based on who is standing in front of you. that is not who we are. that is not what we should ever become. there is a saying in the courtroom, may justice be done until the heavens fall. you won't hear that saying in politics. you're more likely to hear wh, at all costs, the heavens be damned. we don't win with politicians we can't trust. we don't survive with a justice system we don't trust.
with that, i recognize the gentleman from maryland. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. when we look back to the presidential campaign in 2016, there is one extremely troubling image we all remember very well. that is the image of donald trump and other republicans chanting, "lock her up! lock her up! lock her up!" they were talking about hillary clinton using personal e-mails. and they demanded over and over again that she be jailed. but the justice department had already investigated. they had interviewed witnesses, reviewed documents, analyzed the law, examined past charging decisions. at the conclusion of its
investigation, they disagreed with the republicans. they did not charge hillary clinton with any crime at all. and the entire doj and fbi team on the investigation agreed with that conclusion. of course, the republicans refused to accept that conclusion. they wanted hillary clinton to be guilty. so, they attacked the investigati investigation. they said there must have been collusion with hillary clinton. they called emergency hearings over and over and over again. they insisted on reviewing documents and reinterviewing witnesses, and they demanded that the inspector general conducts his own independent investigation of the fbi.
last week, the inspector general issued his report, but it finds the same thing. it says, and i quote, we found no evidence that the conclusions by the department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper consideration. the report goes on, and i quote, rather, we determine that they were based on the prosecutor's assessment of the facts, the law, and past department practice, end of quote. so, the republicans were wrong again. are they hollering about "lock her up" was bogus. it was baseless. it was unsubstantiated. and now we have another report saying so.
but again and again, the republicans refuse to accept this conclusion. they still want hillary clinton to be guilty, even today. now they're going after the investigation of the investigation. they're going after the inspector general's report issued last week. they want to review documents the inspector general already reviewed and reinterview witnesses the inspector general already interviewed. some republicans even want to investigate whether anyone tampered with the inspector general's report or watered it down. they simply refuse to accept the inspector general's findings. the republicans point to some
individual expressions of bias, and these are facts the inspector general already reviewed. instead, the republicans are now tripling down, threatening to impeach rod rosenstein and christopher wray for somehow obstructing their efforts to get to the bottom of all of this. they had a big meeting on friday, by the way, friday night, with speaker paul ryan. no democrats were invited, of course. but this weekend, chairman gowdy describes some of it during a press conference. press appearance. apparently, after reading the inspector general's conclusions, house republicans all decided that -- and i quote -- the house of representatives is going to use its full arsenal of
constitutional weapons to gain compliance, end of quote, with their never-ending demands regarding hillary clinton. at this point, i think it's crystal clear that the only answer republicans will accept is that hillary clinton must be guilty. they will keep going on and going until they get that answer. even if the facts will never support it, and even if multiple independent reviews come to exactly the opposite conclusion. republicans in congress are only willing to use their full arsenal of constitutional weapons to attack hillary clinton or protect donald trump. neither the oversight committee nor the judiciary committee has
issued a single subpoena to investigate president donald trump or any other topic related to his administration, including the key moral and ethical issue of the day, which is the president's new policy to separate children from their families. and so, i ask the question, and it is a simple question -- are we really going to sit here, 70 members of the congress of the united states of america, in 2018, and have a hearing that just repeats the hearings the senate had yesterday on hillary clinton's e-mails? we sent letter after letter, letter after letter, asking these committees to investigate the trump administration's
policy, which is now resulting in child internment camps. that's what i said, child internment camps. but we have got no response. look, even if you believe people entered our country illegally, even if you believe they have no valid asylum claims in their own country, even if you believe immigration should be halted entirely, we all should be able to agree that in the united states of america, we will not intentionally separate children from their parents. we will not do that! we are better than that! we are so much better! we should be able to agree that we will not keep kids in child internment camps indefinitely
and hidden away from public view. what country is that! this is the united states of america! we now have reports that parents are being deported, but the trump administration is keeping their children here. 2018. in america. we do not need legislation. this is a policy. and understand this, this was a policy invented, implemented, and executed by president donald trump. so, in conclusion, mr. chairman, we need you. those children need you. and i'm talking directly to my republican colleagues. we need you to stand up to president trump.
we need you to join us in telling him that we reject this mean policy. we need you to tell him to abandon this policy. we need you to remind him that this is the united states of america, and it is a great country, and we need you to stand up for those children. and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> gentleman from maryland yields back. gentleman from virginia's recognized. >> we are here to shed light on decisions that have terribly tarnished the reputation of our chief law enforcement institutions and undermine americans' confidence in their justice system. today we will examine irregularities and improprieties of the fbi and doj in the
handling of the two most sensitive investigations in the history of our country, and it all began with hillary clinton's mishandling of classified e-mails. the ig's report has spawned more questions and more theories about the fbi and doj's handling of the clinton investigation. it confirms that mrs. clinton did, in fact, receive special treatment from the obama justice department and fbi during their investigation. the american people often get tired of political infighting in washington, d.c. so, i want to ask a simple question -- why should americans care about what we are talking about here today? i propose this answer. because our constitution guarantees equality under the law. americans expect that those with power and influence will not receive special treatment. but as the ig report describes, doj and fbi did not treat mrs. clinton like any other criminal suspect and did not follow standard investigative
procedures in exonerating her. the ig found many issues with this particular investigation as well as serious institutional issues. and while only telling half the story, we are still awaiting conclusions with respect to the allegations of surveillance abuse inside the fbi. the ig identified various corrective actions, including recommending five additional fbi employees for further review and possible disciplinary consideration. in a nutshell, the ig report details unusual actions taken by law enforcement officials who were sworn to uphold the constitution impartially and fairly. they failed in that duty. again, why should americans care? the department of justice and the fbi are not mentioned in the u.s. constitution. who is mentioned in the constitution? the president and congress. yet, a handful of individuals in these law enforcement institutions place the
constitutional institution of the presidency under attack during a heated election and mocked congress' legitimate constitutionally mandated oversight. equality under the law is a core american value. our laws are to be administered and enforced with impartiality. the ig report confirms that this was not the case in the clinton investigation. to quote from the report concerning certain individuals assigned to the investigation -- we found that the conduct of these five fbi employees brought discredit to themselves, sewed doubt about the fbi's handling of the investigation and impacted the reputation of the fbi. moreover, the damage caused by their actions extends far beyond the scope of the investigation and goes to the heart of the fbi's reputation for neutral fact-finding and political independence, end quote. i am only repeating what the ig
found -- improprieties by the fbi and doj caused such far-reaching damage going to the heart of what is expected from agencies whose responsibility was to remain fair administrators of justice. this hearing and the ig's report underscores the importance of the ongoing joint investigation by the house judiciary committee and the house oversight committee into decisions made by the doj and fbi in 2016. to date, the committees have interviewed several key witnesses and reviewed tens of thousands of documents. while we appreciate the ig and his staff for a very detailed investigation, it is critical for the public to also hear what was not included in the report, due to the ig's refusal to question, quote, whether a particular decision by the fbi and doj was the most effective choice, end quote. here is what has been observed by these committees --
questionable interpretation by doj and fbi of the law surrounding mishandling of classified information, foreign actors obtained access to some of mrs. clinton's e-mails, including at least one e-mail classified secret, director comey appeared to have predetermined the exoneration of mrs. clinton at least two months before the investigation concluded, the department of justice determined any charge of gross negligence was off the table, reading an intent standard into the law that does not exist. grotesque statements against then candidate donald trump were made by top fbi officials, and they went so far as to say we'll stop trump from becoming president. end discretions involving mr. strzok and ms. page were not handled at the time the fbi learned about them, resulting in their continued assignment as key players in the clinton
investigation and the mueller/russia investigation. mr. mccabe appears to not have been forthright with congress during an interview conducted by the committees concerning his knowledge of meetings and actions taken by mr. mccabe and his team. the fbi's top counterintelligence official was unaware of possible evidence indicating mrs. clinton's private e-mail server had been penetrated by a foreign adversary and unaware of relevant legal process obtained during the investigation. documents show significant criticism of mr. comey expressed by multiple current and former fbi agents. the fbi intentionally obscured the fact president obama had communicated with mrs. clinton's private e-mail address by editing mr. comey's final press statement, replacing the president with the euphemism senior government official. finally, top fbi officials, including mr. mccabe and
mrmr. mr. prestapp, through their wives, had affiliations to clinton affiliated entities and simply should have been recused from the investigation. public inconfidence and impartiality of our law enforcement system is critical to ensure all are treated equally under the law. fallout from the clinton investigation, however, gives the impression those with money and influence are given lighter treatment than the so-called common person. short-term damage to the fbi and doj's reputations is apparent. however, the ig and congress' investigations will help to understand why certain deficiencies occurred during one of the most high-profile investigations in this nation's history. this hearing is a crucial step toward repairing law enforcement's reputation as an impartial fact-finder and seeker of truth, and i look forward to the inspector general's testimony today. >> gentleman from virginia yields back. the gentleman from new york is recognized.
>> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, inspector general horowitz for being here today. in the days since you released your report, mr. inspector general, i have been struck by the total disconnect between the republican party line and your actual findings. the report does not find, as president trump continues to complain, that the fbi, quote, plotted against his election. the report also does not totally exonerate the president on the russia matter, no matter how you read it. it does not give any reason to conclude, as the president's increasingly untethered attorney, rudy giuliani, argues, that, quote, mueller should be suspended and honest people should be brought in, unquote, or that the attorney general should violate his recusal and end the special counsel's investigation altogether. nor does it suggest, as chairman goodlatte and chairman gowdy insist, that hillary clinton received special treatment from the fbi. the key findings in the report
are quite simple -- the inspector general, quote, found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations. rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutor's assessment of the facts, the law, and past department practice, close quote. that sums up everything we're talking about. the report criticized the fbi and its former leadership, but virtually every action criticized ultimately harmed the candidacy of secretary clinton and to the benefit of the candidacy of donald trump. and the report has nothing whatsoever to say about the ongoing work of the special counsel. president trump, rudy jgiuliani and others are desperate to make that leap. who wouldn't want to be, with 13
counts and some jailed. but it's based on innuendo, not on the facts and certainly not on this report. i am not shy about my criticism of the former fbi director. when james comey testified before the judiciary committee last year, i told him that he was wrong to have applied a double standard to the presidential campaigns. speaking publicly and at length about the clinton investigation but refusing even to acknowledge the existence of the investigation into the trump campaign. i also told mr. comey that he was wrong to have criticized secretary clinton after announcing that he would not charge her with a crime, not because of the content of the criticism, but because issuing that statement was simply not his job, as the report finds. it is also wrong, as well as against department of justice guidelines, for the investigative agency to criticize the subject of an investigation for uncharged conduct. it was totally unnecessary and
wrong. the inspector general's report describes both of these failings in detail. the report's analysis of mr. comey's july 5th statement reads in part, quote, in our criminal justice system, the investigative and prosecutive functions are intentionally kept separate as a check on the government's power to bring criminal charges. the report concludes that mr. comey's statement assumed an authority that did not belong to the office of the director of the fbi. i am grateful for this important analysis, mr. horowitz. unfortunately, sir, your key finding that the decision not to charge secretary clinton was based on an assessment of the facts, the law, and past department practice, and not unbias or improper consideration, is now subject to the treatment that president trump and some of my republican colleagues will give it. i mean there was total bias, the president argued on the white house lawn just last week. what are we to make of this disconnect between what the
report says and what the president and his allies say it says? why is it that no matter how many times we litigate this question, house republicans can think of nothing better to do than to endlessly investigate hillary clinton for the same conduct. why is it that after half a dozen investigations found no wrongdoing at benghazi, the majorities spent millions of dollars on their own benghazi select committee, and when that body found no wrongdoing either, why is it that the majority moved on to legitimize conspiracy theories about the clinton foundation and uranium 1? why is it that after the department of justice and the fbi concluded it should not charge secretary clinton with a crime, rather than accepting the conclusion as we would in most criminal cases, the judiciary and oversight majorities launched an investigation into the department of justice and the fbi? why is it that after you released this report, mr. horowitz, some of my colleagues seriously suggested that we open an investigation
into your investigation of the investigation? why is it that here and now, in june of 2018, we are still talking about hillary clinton's e-mails at all? i suspect it has something to do with the way republicans have squandered their opportunity to govern and the consequences of abdicating that responsibility. house republicans have done little or nothing to secure our next election from foreign attack or to push back against the attorney general's unprecedented refusal to defend in court the key protections of the affordable care act or to address an immigration crisis with anything other than a cruel and reactionary policy proposal that will never become law and with persecuting children at the border. they don't even make credible arguments about hillary clinton's e-mails. i suspect that if the majority were actually motivated by the sensitivity of classified information in the clinton case, they would have also said something by now about the highly sensitive israeli operation revealed to russian officials by president trump or
about the way the president handles classified documents at mar-a-lago, or about the confidential human source's identity was exposed recently while our colleagues tried to force the deputy attorney general to reveal his identity, or about the totally inappropriate, if not outright unlawful dangling of pardons by the president and his attorney to those accused of participating in a conspiracy against the united states. no, too many of my republican colleagues seem perpetually stuck at a campaign rally, chanting "lock her up," hoping the public won't notice how little they've accomplished with their time in the majority. i look forward to your testimony today, mr. inspector general. i hope our conversation can be the beginning of the end of this long preoccupation with secretary clinton. we have so many more important things to do. i yield back. >> gentleman from new york yields back. we are pleased to introduce our
witness today, the honorable michael horowitz, inspector general for the department of justice. welcome to you, mr. horowitz. pursuant to committee rules, all witnesses will be sworn in before they testify, so i would ask you to do what you just did, stand up, raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear or affirm the testimony you're about to give should be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? may the record reflect the witness answered in the affirmative. mr. horowitz, you are recognized for your opening statement. >> great. thank you. chairman gowdy and goodlatte, and thank you ranking members cummings and nadler and members of the committee. thank you for inviting me to testify today regarding the report we released last week. our 500-page-plus report provides a thorough, comprehensive, and objective recitation of the facts related to the department's and the fbi's handling of the clinton e-mail investigation. it was the product of 17 months of investigative work by a
dedicated oig team that reviewed well over 1.2 million documents and interviewed more than 100 witnesses, many on multiple occasions. the review team followed the evidence wherever it led. and through their efforts, we identified the inappropriate text and instant messages discussed in the report. additionally, the oig's painstaking forensic examinations recovered thousands of text messages that otherwise would have been lost or been undisclosed. as detailed in our report, we found that the inappropriate political messages that we uncovered cast a cloud over the midyear investigation, sewed doubt about the credibility of the fbi's handling of it and impact the reputation of the fbi. we found the implication that senior fbi employees would be willing to take official action to impact a presidential candidate's electoral prospects to be deeply troubling and
antithetical to the core values of the fbi and the justice department. with regard to the decision to close the investigation without prosecution, we found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were the result of improper considerations, including political bias, but rather, were exercises of those prosecutors' prosecutorial discretion -- an exercise of their prosecutorial discretion, based on their assessment of the facts, the law, and past department practice. our review also included a fact-based, detailed assessment of certain, specific investigative and prosecutorial decisions that were the subject of controversy. it was necessary to select particular investigative decision because it would not have been possible to recreate and analyze every decision made in a year-long investigation. in examining these decisions, we considered -- the question we
considered was not whether a particular decision was the most effective choice, but rather, whether the documentary and testimonial evidence indicated the decision was based on improper considerations, including political bias. this approach is consistent with the oig's handling of such questions in past reviews, when assessing discretionary judgment calls, and recognizes and respects the institutional oversight role of the oig. our report provides a comprehensive assessment of these decisions and of the midyear investigation and details the factual evidence so that the public, congress, and other stakeholders can conduct their own assessment of them. within this framework, as to the specific investigative and prosecutive decisions we reviewed, we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected those specific
investigative decisions, in part because the decisions were made by the midyear team -- by the larger midyear team, or by the prosecutors. this determination by the oig does not mean that we necessarily endorse those decisions or concluded they were the most effective among the options considered or that our findings should or can be extrapolated to cover other decisions made during the course of the investigation by the fbi employees who sent those inappropriate text messages. conversely, we found the fbi's explanations for its failures to take immediate action after discovering the weiner laptop in 2016 to be unpersuasive, and we did not have confidence that the decision of dispute assistant director strzok to prioritize the russia investigation over following up on t