Watchdog Behind Probe Into FBI’s Clinton Investigation Has History Of Impartiality

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Andrew Kerr Investigative Reporter
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The man behind Thursday’s probe into the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, has a reputation of being a “straight-shooter” with little desire to soak up the “limelight,” associates have said.

The highly-anticipated report is expected to criticize several key players involved in the Clinton probe, including former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Horowitz, an Obama appointee the Senate confirmed without objection in 2012, leads a team of 450 employees nation-wide tasked with detecting and deterring waste, fraud and misconduct within the Justice Department and reports to the attorney general and Congress. The best inspectors generals work independently of their agency’s leadership, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“When waste fraud or abuse is detected in a particular case, the IG’s job is to flag it, not allow the management of the agency to make itself look good by either not investigating at all or investigating something in a way designed to whitewash it,” said former Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich in a recent interview with ABC News.

Horowitz hit the ground running as inspector general. He issued a report on “Fast and Furious,” the infamous Obama administration operation that led to the death of a Border Patrol agent, within his first six months on the job.

He referred 14 officials involved with Fast and Furious for disciplinary action, but his recommendations were eventually sidelined by then-Attorney General Eric Holder.

“He’s generally considered to be a straight-shooting guy, though he likes to mind his congressional politics,” former DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller, who served under Holder, told Vanity Fair. “Whether you agree with all his conclusions or not, Horowitz has a history of acting in good faith.”

“Michael is very cautious,” Horowitz’ former colleague Steven Cohen added. “He’s dogged. He’s the opposite of a guy seeking to have a life in the limelight.”

House Democrats Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Jon Conyers of Michigan were the first to request an IG investigation of the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s emails in an October 2016 letter following FBI leaks that allegedly damaged the Clinton campaign. (RELATED: Democrats Cheered An Investigation Into Anti-Clinton Bias At The FBI. It Keeps Finding Pro-Clinton Bias Instead)

Cummings welcomed the announcement of Horowitz’ investigation in January 2017, saying it was necessary to repel a “crisis of legitimacy” at the FBI and other organizations involved in the Clinton email probe.

California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff followed up Cummings’ praise, saying Comey’s decision to send a letter to Congress announcing the existence of new Clinton emails just weeks before the 2016 election warranted an investigation. Many Clinton supporters believe Comey’s October surprise cost Clinton the election.

Horowitz previously worked under Comey during the former FBI director’s stint as a federal prosecutor in New York from 1987 to 1993, according to The New York Times.

Many Republicans have come out in support of Horowitz in advance of his highly anticipated report.

South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy called Horowitz “professional, fair, fact-centric and evenhanded,” according to The New York Times.

Former Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah urged both Republicans and Democrats to “take to heart whatever he finds, even if it doesn’t fit our political agendas. People will spin and throw political barbs, but if you read the actual text, my gut is that’s the truth.”

But President Donald Trump has publicly criticized Horowitz on multiple occasions, questioning why “an Obama guy” was taking so long to release his findings.

Heads have already rolled during Horowitz’ year-and-a-half-long investigation.

He issued a scathing report in April accusing former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe of lacking candor in making a self-serving decision to disclose information to a Wall Street Journal reporter in October 2016.

McCabe was fired in March 2018 after the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended his termination following the IG’s report.

Horowitz’ report on the Clinton investigation is expected to find that Comey departed “so clearly and dramatically from the FBI and department norms” in a way that “negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice,” according to the report’s conclusions, which were obtained by Bloomberg News.

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