Watchdog to Probe Comey's, FBI's Actions Before Election | NBC New York
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Watchdog to Probe Comey's, FBI's Actions Before Election

The watchdog's review will cover how the FBI and its director, James Comey, and the Justice Department handled aspects of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server

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    The Department of Justice will investigate FBI Director James Comey for his actions during the 2016 presidential election, after Democrats charged that his public condemnation of Hillary Clinton over her email use - and subsequent reopening of the case two weeks before Election Day - cost her the White House. (Published Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017)

    In yet another aftershock from the chaotic presidential campaign, the Justice Department inspector general opened an investigation Thursday into department and FBI actions before the election, including whether FBI Director James Comey followed established policies in the email investigation of Hillary Clinton.

    Democrats have blamed Comey's handling of the inquiry into Clinton's use of a private email server, and his late-October public letter about the case, as one reason for her loss to Republican Donald Trump.

    Workers are now putting final touches on preparations for next week's Inauguration Day festivities, and the new probe will not change the election results. But it revives questions of whether the FBI took actions that might have influenced the outcome.

    IG Michael Horowitz, the department's internal watchdog, will direct the investigation, which comes in response to requests from members of Congress and the public.

    FBI: Clinton & Staff 'Extremely Careless' With Emails

    [NATL-DGO] FBI: Clinton & Staff 'Extremely Careless' in Handling Confidential and Classified Information
    FBI Director Comey explained on Tuesday why the agency believed the former secretary of state was extremely careless with her email use. (Published Tuesday, July 5, 2016)

    Comey said he was pleased about the review and the FBI would cooperate fully with the inspector general.

    "I hope very much he is able to share his conclusions and observations with the public because everyone will benefit from thoughtful evaluation and transparency regarding this matter," he said in a statement.

    One part of the review will concern Comey's news conference last July in which he said the FBI would not recommend charges against Clinton for her use of a private email system during her tenure as secretary of state. Trump repeatedly criticized that practice, contending it put national security secrets at risk.

    Trump also declared at raucous rallies during the campaign that he would seek a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton and that she would be in jail if he were elected. But he said after the election that he did not intend to seek a new investigation of her.

    Clinton: Why Would FBI 'Jump Into an Election'

    [NATL] Clinton: Why Would FBI 'Jump Into an Election With No Evidence'?
    The FBI's discovery of more emails tied to Hillary Clinton hasn't hurt her in the polls. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016)

    Comey, during his announcement in the summer, broke protocol when he chastised Clinton and her aides as "extremely careless" in their email practices. It's highly unusual for federal law enforcement officials to discuss a criminal case that ends without charges being filed.

    Comey reignited the email controversy on Oct. 28 when he informed Congress that agents would be reviewing a cache of emails between Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Clinton for any new evidence related to Clinton's handling of sensitive State Department material.

    That move boiled in the campaign for nine days, before Comey announced on Nov. 6 — two days before Election Day — that the inquiry had found no new evidence of wrongdoing.

    Clinton and her aides have said the disclosure of the "new" emails, found on a laptop belonging to former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, Abedin's estranged husband, hurt the candidate in several battleground states. Trump won the election in part with narrow victories in Democratic-leaning states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

    Comey's statements prompted outrage from Clinton and other Democrats who said they needlessly placed her under fresh suspicion when the FBI didn't even know whether the emails were relevant.

    Court documents released last month said the FBI had been trying to get a look at thousands of Clinton's emails on the disgraced former congressman's computer to see if anyone had hacked in to steal classified information. Weiner's laptop was initially seized by agents for an investigation into his online relationship with a teenage girl in North Carolina.

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who leads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote Thursday on Twitter that he supports the IG's review "of what happened at the (hashtag)DOJ and (hashtag)FBI during the Clinton investigation."

    Horowitz's broad investigation will also look into allegations that the FBI's deputy director should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters and allegations that department officials improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign.

    Visitors to Wildlife Preserve Catch Glimpse of Massive Gator

    [NATL] Visitors to Wildlife Preserve Catch Glimpse of Massive Gator
    A massive alligator was recorded on video Sunday at a wildlife preserve in Polk County, Florida. Almost prehistoric in appearance, the gator is known well by people who frequent the preserve, but the social media explosion brought out plenty of new viewers on Monday. "It's awesome," exclaimed Jackson McMillan. That is until he was asked if he wanted to get any closer, to which he replied, "I'm fine." (Published Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017)

    It will also delve into decision-making related to the timing of the FBI's release of Freedom of Information Act documents in the days before the election and the use of a Twitter account to publicize them.

    Asked about the new investigation, Attorney General Loretta Lynch told The Associated Press in Baltimore that "we let them conduct their review before we make any statement about that." She added that "obviously everyone's going to await the results of that."