Internal DOJ review concludes Comey veered 'clearly and dramatically' from FBI protocol in Clinton investigation
The Justice Department inspector general concluded Thursday that former FBI Director James Comey "deviated" from bureau protocol in his handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails in 2016, but that his decisions were not ultimately the "result" of political bias. The 500-page report, a copy of which was obtained early by The Washington Post, also reveals that some bureau staff expressed a "willingness to take official action" to stop President Trump from reaching the White House.
Comey has faced condemnation over his decision to criticize Clinton's use of a private email server when announcing that the FBI found no wrongdoing, and again for publicly reopening the investigation a week before the 2016 election. "While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey's part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice," writes DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Perhaps even more startling, the report found that Comey himself on "numerous instances" used a personal Gmail account to conduct his official FBI business. In July 2016, Comey famously summarized Clinton's use of a private email server as being "extremely careless," even as he said she was not guilty of any crime.
The Washington Post observes that the inspector general's report "aim[s] to define once and for all what the FBI and Justice Department did right and what was wrong in the Clinton probe, but partisans are likely to seize on different findings to buttress their long-held views about that investigation." Significantly, it says that the conclusions "fell significantly short in supporting the assertion by the president and his allies that the investigation was rigged in favor of Clinton." Read the full report here. Jeva Lange
Christine Ford's attorney shares concerns over Kavanaugh Senate hearing not being 'fair and credible'
In a letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Monday night, an attorney for Christine Blasey Ford asked how his client could expect to receive "fair and respectful treatment" when she testifies in front of the committee Thursday, considering what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had to say about her earlier in the day.
Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers. Attorney Michael Bromwich said that while speaking on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, McConnell claimed Ford was part of a "smear campaign" against Kavanaugh, and implied that there had been an investigation and there was a lack of evidence proving the assault took place. Grassley had told Ford she would be provided "a fair and credible process," Bromwich said, but McConnell's statements "are flatly inconsistent" with Grassley's promise.
Bromwich also wanted to know more about the "experienced sex crimes prosecutor" who is being hired to question Ford. "This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate," he said. "Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case." This is not on par with Watergate or Iran-Contra, and it is "disingenuous" for Republicans to state otherwise, he said, later adding. "The central point is that there is no precedent for this committee to bring in outside counsel for the sole purpose of shielding the members of the Committee from performing their responsibility to question witnesses." Catherine Garcia
President Trump heaped praise on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh Monday night on Twitter, while blasting Democrats for their "False Acquisitions" that are keeping him from the bench.
"The Democrats are working hard to destroy a wonderful man, and a man who has the potential to be one of our greatest Supreme Court Justices ever, with an array of False Acquisitions the likes of which have never been seen before!" Trump tweeted. He followed up with a simple message: "REMEMBER THE MIDTERMS!"
Trump either noticed or was told that "Acquisitions" is not how you spell "accusations," as he later posted his first message again — this time with the right word, albeit still unnecessarily capitalized. Catherine Garcia
Researchers have found that after only 10 minutes of light exercise, there is enhanced communication between the regions of the brain that store and recall memories.
Scientists from the University of California, Irvine, had 36 healthy volunteers in their early 20s exercise for 10 minutes, doing light activity like yoga or walking. The volunteers then took a memory test, which was repeated later without exercise. The researchers asked 16 of the volunteers to take the test again, with some exercising first and others resting. While studying their brain activity, it was discovered that those who exercised had increased activity between the hippocampus and cortical brain regions, which are all associated with memory.
The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with the researchers writing that volunteers who exercised had an easier time distinguishing between different memories. Michael Yassa, a neuroscientist at UCI and project co-leader, told The Guardian that the amount of exercise is dependent on a person's age, mobility level, and other lifestyle factors, and for many, taking a leisurely stroll is enough. Catherine Garcia
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has been working overtime defending Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh against allegations of sexual assault, and on Monday called the latest accusation "phony."
Earlier this month, Christine Blasey Ford went public with her accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers, and on Sunday night, The New Yorker published the account of Deborah Ramirez, who said when they were freshman at Yale University, Kavanaugh exposed himself during a party and thrust his penis in her face.
Hatch, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters Monday that he is sure Ramirez is "sincere" in believing Kavanaugh exposed himself to her, but "I also think she's sincerely wrong." He also said it's "amazing to me that these allegations come out of nowhere at the last minute and they weren't brought up earlier in this process and it's not untypical for our friends on the other side to pull that kind of crap."
Hatch, who has also called Ford "mixed-up," released a lengthy statement earlier in the day where he claimed to believe that "every accuser deserves to be heard." His statement included a long paragraph where he tried to discredit The New Yorker article, and accused Democrats of conducting "a smear campaign" against Kavanaugh.
He's also supporting Kavanaugh online — the Twitter page run by Hatch's office resembles a shrine to the judge, with a photo of the senator, Kavanaugh, and girls on the basketball team Kavanaugh coaches as the header. The account's tweets from the last week are all devoted to Kavanaugh, with some praising him and others slamming Hatch's Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Catherine Garcia
During an interview with Fox News on Monday, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said multiple times that he has never sexually assaulted anyone, and is "looking for a fair process, a process where I can defend my integrity and clear my name."
Kavanaugh has been accused by two women of sexual assault, and he told Martha MacCallum he has "always treated women with dignity and respect." Kavanaugh's wife, Ashley, joined him for the interview, and said the confirmation process is "incredibly difficult, harder than we imagined, and we imagined it might be hard. At the end of the day, our faith is strong and we know that we're on the right path. We're just gonna stick to it." She called the allegations "really hard to believe" because her husband is "decent, he's kind, he's good. This is not consistent with Brett."
Kavanaugh said he does not remember being at a high school party with one of the accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, and they did not travel in the same social circles. The other accuser, Deborah Ramirez, knew Kavanaugh at Yale University, and he claimed if he had exposed himself as she has alleged, "it would have been the talk of campus." As part of his defense, Kavanaugh revealed that he "did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to it in high school and many years thereafter," and never drank so much he blacked out or couldn't remember what happened the night before. "I'm telling the truth," he said. "I know my lifelong record. I'm not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process." Catherine Garcia
Two of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's former classmates asked The New Yorker to remove their names from a statement they signed in support of the Supreme Court nominee.
On Sunday night, The New Yorker published an article by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow about a woman, Deborah Ramirez, who said while she was at Yale University, her classmate, Kavanaugh, exposed himself to her at a party. Mayer and Farrow spoke to former classmates who said they remembered hearing about such an incident, others who believed Ramirez's word, and some who said Kavanaugh would never expose himself.
The article included a statement, prepared by Kavanaugh's attorneys, signed by two of the male classmates Ramirez said were at the party, the wife of a third male student Ramirez said was involved in the incident, and additional classmates. They said they were "the people closest to Brett Kavanaugh during his first year at Yale" and could declare "with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it — and we did not. The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett."
On Monday evening, The New Yorker updated the article to reflect that two classmates who originally signed the statement, Louisa Garry and Dino Ewing, approached the magazine after the article was published and asked that their names be removed. Garry said she "never saw or heard anything like this. But I cannot dispute Ramirez's allegations, as I was not present." Ewing said he did not have direct knowledge of the incident and did not think it sounded like Kavanaugh, but "I also was not present and therefore am not in a position to directly dispute Ramirez's account." Catherine Garcia
A Dallas police officer who killed a black man after wrongly entering his apartment was fired Monday, ABC News reports.
Officer Amber Guyger, 30, shot and killed her neighbor Botham Jean, 26, in his Dallas apartment earlier this month and is now being charged with manslaughter. Guyger said she shot Jean when she entered the apartment and, believing it was her own, thought Jean was a burglar, NPR reports. Jean lived directly above Guyger.
Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall said she made the decision to fire Guyger after an internal affairs investigation wrapped Sept. 9, per ABC News. Hall released a statement last week saying she was waiting to take employment action against Guyger because she didn't want to "interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation."
Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family, called the firing an "initial victory." Merritt said his office is conducting their own investigation and is hoping to file a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Guyger and the city of Dallas, ABC News reports. Marianne Dodson