First, we found that several FBI employees who played critical roles in the investigation sent political messages—some of which related directly to the Midyear investigation—that created the appearance of bias and thereby raised questions about the objectivity and thoroughness of the Midyear investigation. Even more seriously, text messages between Strzok and Page pertaining to the Russia investigation, particularly a text message from Strzok on August 8 stating “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.” in response to a Page text “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!,” are not only indicative of a biased state of mind but imply a willingness to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects. This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice. While we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed in Chapter Five, the conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation and sowed doubt about the FBI’s work on, and its handling of, the Midyear investigation. It also called into question Strzok’s failure in October 2016 to follow up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop. The damage caused by these employees’ actions extends far beyond the scope of the Midyear investigation and goes to the heart of the FBI’s reputation for neutral factfinding and political independence.
Second, in key moments, then Director Comey chose to deviate from the FBI’s and the Department’s established procedures and norms and instead engaged in his own subjective, ad hoc decisionmaking. In so doing, we found that Comey largely based his decisions on what he believed was in the FBI’s institutional interests and would enable him to continue to effectively lead the FBI as its Director. While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and Department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the Department as fair administrators of justice. Moreover, these decisions usurped the authority of the Attorney General and upset the well-established separation between investigative and prosecutorial functions and the accountability principles that guide law enforcement decisions in the United States.
Source: Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, justice.gov/file/1071991/download