Associated Press

Trump: Firing Comey "Great Service"

Follows DOJ Watchdog Report

June 15, 2018 - 9:20 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday he did the nation "a great service" by firing James Comey as FBI director and he cited an internal Justice Department report that found Comey was "insubordinate" in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Trump's comments came in his first tweets since the department's inspector general released its 500-page report that also rebuked FBI officials for exchanging anti-Trump text messages during the 2016 campaign.

Trump's supporters have argued that the findings are proof of political bias at the FBI's highest levels that then tainted the Russia investigation, first led by the FBI and now by special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller's probe includes a look into whether Trump himself tried to obstruct justice by firing Comey.

But that report, while damaging to the FBI and to Comey personally, does not support Trump's allegation that political preferences influenced the conduct of the email investigation into his Democratic presidential rival.

"The IG Report is a total disaster for Comey, his minions and sadly, the FBI," Trump tweeted. "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."

Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told "Fox & Friends" that the report casts doubt on whether Trump will ever agree to an interview with Mueller's team because "why would he get interviewed by a corrupt investigation?"

The report, however, does not conclude that the FBI was corrupt.

"We 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 prosecutors' assessment of the facts, the law and past department practice," the inspector general found.

While Trump has said Comey's deputy, Andrew McCabe, should have stepped aside himself because of Democratic political contributions to his wife, the report said he acted appropriately in flagging the issue inside the bureau.

Thursday's report documents in painstaking detail one of the most consequential investigations in modern FBI history and reveals how the bureau, which for decades has endeavored to stand apart from politics, came to be entangled in the 2016 presidential election. It underscores efforts by FBI and Justice Department leaders to juggle developments in the Clinton investigation — she had used private email for government business while secretary of state — with a separate probe that was then unknown to the American public into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Comey, whom Trump fired shortly after taking office, bore the brunt of the report's criticism and likely gave comfort to Clinton supporters who believe Comey's actions may have torpedoed her chance of becoming president.

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