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What they're saying: How both sides are spinning the FBI report

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Department of Justice's inspector general released its report on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe before the 2016 election, criticizing James Comey, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page but finding no evidence that the FBI's investigation was compromised by political bias.

The big picture: The report manages to weave together some of the most polarizing political events of the last few years — and the spin has already begun on both sides of the political spectrum.

The FBI

  • Former FBI Director James Comey: "I respect the DOJ IG office, which is why I urged them to do this review. The conclusions are reasonable, even though I disagree with some. People of good faith can see an unprecedented situation differently. I pray no Director faces it again. Thanks to IG’s people for hard work." Comey also wrote an op-ed regarding the report for The New York Times.
  • Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, via his lawyer: "Although the OIG report exonerates Mr. McCabe of any charges of bias or improper influence, it erroneously assigns responsibility to him for the delay in pursuing potentially relevant emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop in October 2016 ... [T]he FBI’s delay in searching the laptop was a systemic failure, not attributable to any one person."

Republicans

  • House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows: "The findings from Inspector General Horowitz are deeply disturbing and raise alarming questions about a Justice Department that should serve as a bedrock for America’s people... one can reach no other conclusion than the FBI sorely mishandled the investigation into Secretary Hillary Clinton."
  • Sen. Ron Johnson: "The Inspector General report shows real problems within the FBI and Justice Department... violations of FBI and DOJ policy, serious lapses in judgement, and questionable contacts with news reporters."
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch said the report confirmed "what I have long suspected — that there were serious errors in the FBI and Department of Justice's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private server while Secretary of State."

Democrats

  • Reps. Jerry Nadler and Elijah Cummings directly accused Comey of helping Trump become president: "The stark conclusion we draw after reviewing this report is that the FBI’s actions helped Donald Trump become President. Director Comey had a double-standard:  he spoke publicly about the Clinton investigation while keeping secret from the American people the investigation of Donald Trump and Russia."
  • Sen. Chris Coons said he expects "President Trump to continue to claim that this report somehow taints Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, but that simply does not match the facts."
  • Sen. Dick Durbin said that it was clear from the report that Comey and the FBI "failed to follow the rules, and in doing so, hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and helped Donald Trump’s." He added that there is no proof of conspiracy as the President has claimed "in a frenzy of tweets since taking office."

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