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Offbeat What to Watch For in Today’s Report on the F.B.I.’s Hillary Clinton Investigation

14:46  14 june  2018
14:46  14 june  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

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WASHINGTON — A much-anticipated report about the F . B . I .’ s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton was scheduled to be released on Thursday, and few were looking forward to it more than President Trump. Here are the big outstanding questions, and what to look for.

The report , by the Justice Department' s inspector general, is highly anticipated, not least by President Trump.

a building with a clock on the side of a road: The Justice Department. The department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, began his investigation last year to scrutinize the actions of top F.B.I. officials at the time.© Tom Brenner/The New York Times The Justice Department. The department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, began his investigation last year to scrutinize the actions of top F.B.I. officials at the time.

WASHINGTON — A much-anticipated report about the F.B.I.’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton was scheduled to be released on Thursday, and few were looking forward to it more than President Trump. Here are the big outstanding questions, and what to look for.

Did the F.B.I. really put the fix in to save Mrs. Clinton?

This has become the most important question of the report, and it is one that the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, did not even set out to answer. He began his investigation last year to scrutinize the actions of the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey, and his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe.

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The investigation of Hillary Clinton ' s private email arrangements is once again in the spotlight. Once this election is in the rear-view mirror, there will have to be a lot of soul-searching within the FBI and the media about how this story has played out and been covered.

Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton on the campaign’ s plane on Friday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times. The new development in the saga over Mrs “ The F . B . I .’ s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton ’ s secret email server just 11 days before the election shows how

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But Mr. Trump has pushed a theory that a secret cabal of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters inside the F.B.I. conspired to clear her of wrongdoing over her handling of classified information. This same group of agents, Mr. Trump argues, then cooked up a phony investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia as a way to undermine his presidency.

No public evidence has surfaced to prove this theory, and the inspector general is unlikely to claim a wide-ranging political conspiracy at the heart of the F.B.I. There is evidence that at least some agents on the Clinton investigation disliked Mr. Trump. But look for Mr. Trump to seize on aspects of the report that support him, and probably discard those that do not.

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The FBI found evidence laws were broken when secrets got onto Hillary Clinton ’ s personal server, but the case wasn't strong enough. In the American system, justice depends not only on judges and juries, Comey said, but also on the decisions of investigators and prosecutors.

The possibility of the FBI reopening their investigation of Hillary Clinton ’ s emails is headline news today . Cenk Uygur, John Iadarola, Ben Mankiewicz, and

Mrs. Clinton’s supporters find this entire argument baffling. It was Mr. Comey, after all, who chastised her at a nationally televised news conference, and then — over the objection of the Justice Department — announced just days before Election Day that the F.B.I. was again investigating Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump now says the F.B.I. was on her side all along.

What is the Comey legacy?

Mr. Comey was the most high-profile F.B.I. director since J. Edgar Hoover until Mr. Trump fired him in May 2017. The inspector general’s report is expected to be an unflattering book end to his career. He is likely to face sharp criticism for that news conference, in July 2016, and his announcement, in late October of that year.

Yes, this is about Mueller. But also, not really.

Neither the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, nor his investigation is the focus of the report. But it looms over everything that will happen Thursday around the release the report.

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There may be a ticking time-bomb for the Hillary Clinton campaign: corruption being exposed in the FBI ’ s investigation of her emails. Fox News reported that

Hillary Clinton speaking at an American Legion convention in Cincinnati this week. Days after The New York Times first reported that Mrs. Clinton had used a private email system exclusively as The F . B . I . released only small portions of its thick files on the Clinton investigation , and Senator Charles

When the Russia investigation began, Mr. Comey made a decision that ultimately proved fateful. Rather than assign the case to agents in the field, he gave it to the same team at headquarters that had investigated Mrs. Clinton. So, any criticism of decisions in the Clinton case — no matter how unrelated to the Russia investigation — will ultimately be used by Mr. Trump challenge the integrity of the team that began investigating his campaign.

James Comey et al. sitting at a table with a crowd watching: James B. Comey, then the director of the F.B.I., waiting for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to begin in May 2017.© Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times James B. Comey, then the director of the F.B.I., waiting for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to begin in May 2017.

The tarmac meeting was not a good idea.

In the final days of the Clinton investigation, the attorney general at the time, Loretta E. Lynch, held an impromptu private meeting with former President Bill Clinton when the two found themselves unexpectedly on the same tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The meeting led to calls for Ms. Lynch to recuse herself from the investigation. She did not, but said she would defer to the F.B.I. and career prosecutors on whether to prosecute Mrs. Clinton. The tarmac meeting, as well as Ms. Lynch’s half-in-half-out response, are expected to be criticized in Thursday’s report. Ms. Lynch has already said she regrets the meeting.

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Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Oct. On Monday, NBC News reported that the FBI was looking into Trump’ s former campaign manager Paul Manafort Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets people before a meeting on the Flood Emergency in Pakistan in 2010

What do the Clinton Foundation and F . B . I . infighting have to do with the renewed investigation ? James B . Comey, the F . B . I . director, announced in July that he would not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while secretary of state.CreditCreditCliff

What about those text messages?

Two F.B.I. officials, who were assigned to both cases, exchanged text messages that revealed strong anti-Trump sentiment. They said Mrs. Clinton “just has to win” and described a potential victory by Mr. Trump as “terrifying.”

Mr. Trump’s supporters have seized on these messages as evidence that the F.B.I. was biased against him. The inspector general is expected to criticize the officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, but his conclusions on the matter will be closely watched. F.B.I. regulations allow agents to express opinions both “privately and publicly on political subjects and candidates.”

Will Giuliani make an appearance?

Mr. Horowitz has said he is investigating whether officials improperly disclosed information about the Clinton case to journalists. But one of the most intriguing questions involves the potential leak of information to one of Mr. Trump’s key campaign surrogates, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani appeared on Fox News in October 2016 and hinted that big news was about to break:

“I mean, I’m talking about some pretty big surprises,” he said in one interview. In another, he referenced Mrs. Clinton and said he expected the surprises to surface in the coming days.

Two days later, Mr. Comey broke the news that the F.B.I. was once again investigating Mrs. Clinton and her emails. Mr. Comey has said he ordered an investigation into that disclosure but it is not clear what came of it.

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In the final days of the Clinton investigation , the attorney general at the time, Loretta E. Lynch, held an impromptu private meeting with former President Bill Clinton when the two found themselves unexpectedly on the same tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The report , by the Justice Department’ s inspector general, is highly anticipated, not least by President Trump.

Mr. Giuliani is now a lawyer for Mr. Trump, who has railed against inappropriate disclosures to reporters.

Was the F.B.I. slow to respond?

The inspector general is expected to criticize officials at F.B.I. headquarters for the speed at which they responded to the discovery of new emails on a laptop belonging to the estranged husband of one of Mrs. Clinton’s top aides. Critics, including some inside the F.B.I., have suggested that officials at headquarters were uninterested in revisiting the investigation before the election.

And did any of it matter?

The report is expected to run more than 500 pages, and it is likely to criticize many of these decisions and more. It is unclear where Mr. Horowitz will come down on the larger question of whether any of these decisions affected the outcome of the case. Inspectors general do not often second-guess investigative conclusions, and it is not clear that Mr. Horowitz will weigh in on whether the decision not to charge Mrs. Clinton was the right one.

As for whether Mr. Comey cost Mrs. Clinton the election? She says he did. Some political scientists have pointed to data to argue that point. But that is one area the report is unlikely to touch.

Democrats press U.S. Justice Dept. officials on possible leaks to Giuliani .
<p>U.S. Senate Democrats on Monday pressed Justice Department officials about whether some FBI agents may have leaked damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Rudy Giuliani, now an adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, shortly before the 2016 election.</p>In response to questions from Democrats during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Chris Wray said his office was "aggressively investigating a number of leaks," but offered no details.

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