The inspector general looking into the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of investigations during last year’s presidential election said Wednesday he hopes to have the probe done by next spring.
Michael Horowitz, the inspector general at the Justice Department, also said the investigation is moving quickly.
“We’ve interviewed dozens of people. We’re not at the hundreds yet, but we’re in the dozens range,” he told the House Oversight Committee, in response to questions by Chairman Trey Gowdy. Mr. Horowitz said they’d also reviewed 1.2 million records in the investigation.
He said they are aiming for a report to be done by March or April, though he said that timeline could slip if new issues pop up. He also said that with classified information involved — presumably in the form of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails — ex-government employees and their lawyers need to be re-checked for security clearances.
The inspector general is looking into whether the Justice Department’s policies were followed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey when he led the probe into Mrs. Clinton’s secret email account.
Mr. Comey broke with usual practice in confirming the investigation, then making a very public announcement to clear Mrs. Clinton. He said he feared his superiors at the department had become tainted and he wanted to avoid a political stain on his investigation.
But Mr. Comey also began drafting a statement exonerating Mrs. Clinton months before the FBI interviewed her and some other witnesses in the probe, leading Republicans to question whether that was appropriate.
New Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, in testimony to Congress, called the inspector general’s probe an “intense review” and the underlying charges “a serious matter.”
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