Former FBI director James Comey has been fond of the following metaphor for describing his fateful decision to tell Congress just 11 days before the 2016 election that they had found more Hillary Clinton emails:
“I could see two doors and they were both actions. One was labeled ‘speak’ and the other was labeled ‘conceal,'” he’s told multiple interviewers of the move.
In a damning report on the handling of the probe released today, the Department of Justice’s inspector general skewered the metaphor as a “false dichotomy.” “The two doors were actually labeled ‘follow policy/practice’ and ‘depart from policy/practice,'” inspector general Michael Horowitz wrote (pdf, p.x). “Although we acknowledge that Comey faced a difficult situation with unattractive choices, in proceeding as he did, we concluded that Comey made a serious error of judgment.”
Clinton has blamed her election loss on Comey’s decision to announce the new trove of emails, which the FBI’s team managed to trawl through before election day, concluding that there was no pertinent new information in them.
Describing Comey’s July 5 press conference, in which he departed from protocol to condemn Clinton while announcing they were closing the probe into her emails, the inspector general’s report said, “Comey engaged in ad hoc decision-making based on his personal views, even if it meant rejecting longstanding Department policy or practice.”