Former FBI Director James Comey reiterated on Tuesday his support of the Justice Department inspector general’s report about his conduct in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
“The Inspector General report that came out last week ripped me. I totally support it because it’s what the rule of law looks like,” Comey said during an event Tuesday night co-hosted by the nonprofit American Academy in Berlin and the German newspaper Die Zeit, according to the publication’s Facebook page.
He continued, “That’s a mechanism of accountability. I respect it. I asked for it. I salute its work.”
The Justice Department’s internal watchdog found that Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation was “extraordinary and insubordinate” and did not agree with any of his reasons for deviating from “well-established Department policies.”
Comey said Tuesday that he had a “bit of an emotional reaction when I first heard” the term “insubordinate,” but he said “it’s fair, actually.”
He pushed back on accusations that the IG report was incorrect in concluding that prosecutorial decisions in the Clinton case were “consistent” with precedent and not affected by bias or other improper actions.
Comey pointed to FBI agent Peter Strzok’s involvement in a draft letter he sent notifying Congress that the Clinton investigation was reopened just days before Election Day, although it was revealed Strzok exchanged anti-Trump messages with former FBI official Lisa Page.
“I never saw any indication of bias, and Peter Strzok did the first draft of my letter to Congress on October 28 that Hillary Clinton blames for her losing the election,” Comey said. “So how exactly is he trying to get Donald Trump? I don’t see any evidence of a conspiracy.”
Comey said he won’t apologize to Clinton and criticized the former secretary of state, saying that “even at this late date, she doesn’t understand what the investigation in her case was about.”
“It was not about her use of a personal email system, and she didn’t get that during the investigation because she used to say, ‘Well, Colin Powell when he was secretary of state used AOL.’ That’s not what it was about,” Comey said. “It was communicating about classified topics on that system, when those topics have to be done on a classified system.”
Comey also defended his use of personal email as revealed by the inspector general’s report, insisting that he was using his Gmail account to send speech drafts back and forth to his government account.
“I was not talking about anything remotely classified, and the Inspector General didn’t say that as well,” Comey said, adding, “I get why people are focusing on it, but it’s a totally different thing.”
The former FBI chief had also published an op-ed in The New York Times the day of the report’s release, saying “nothing in the inspector general’s report makes me think we did the wrong thing.”