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House GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end

The Hill logo The Hill 12/28/2018 Tal Axelrod

Bob Goodlatte, Trey Gowdy are posing for a picture: House GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end © Greg Nash House GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Judiciary panel announced Friday the end of their investigation into FBI and Justice Department (DOJ) conduct amid conservative allegations of bias during the 2016 presidential election.

The chairmen of the GOP-led panels announced the formal end of the investigation and related interviews as Democrats prepare to take over the helms of the committees when they enter the majority in the House starting next Thursday.

"With the 115th Congress coming to a close, the investigation into decisions made by DOJ and FBI and related interviews conducted by the House Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have, at least for the time being, been concluded," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a letter to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

"I deeply believe in the mission of the FBI and continue to have great faith in the vast majority of the men and women, who are professional and work day in and day out at the Bureau to combat crime and protect our country," he added.

Goodlatte urged Whitaker and Wray to review transcripts of interviews the committees conducted as part of the investigations and redact any classified information so they may be made available to the public. The GOP chairman added that the transcripts had been sent over earlier this month and had not been reviewed in a timely manner, saying the "delay" was "very troubling."

The transcript of the committees' interview with former FBI Director James Comey is the only one to have been redacted and published, although several other officials were interviewed as well, including former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was interviewed earlier this month.

The investigation was spurred by Republican allegations that investigations into Hillary Clinton and then-candidate Donald Trump were marked by bias during the 2016 election.

"Serious questions and concerns have been raised about the thoroughness and impartiality of these investigations," Goodlatte and Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said in a letter Friday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

"The ramifications of decisions made and not made, the bias of some agents and attorneys involved, and the seemingly disparate treatment these investigations received have continued to reverberate into 2017, 2018 and beyond."

Goodlatte and Gowdy went on to rip the FBI and DOJ for "institutional protectionism," claiming the agencies delayed providing relevant documents and failed to provide witnesses for the committees to interview in a timely manner. They again called for a special counsel to be appointed to probe the agencies' behavior during the investigations.

Some conservatives point to the lack of charges against Hillary Clinton for using a private email server, despite Comey saying at the time the behavior was inappropriate, and texts between two FBI agents disparaging Trump during an inquiry into his campaign as proof of bias in the DOJ.

"[C]onfidence in venerable institutions like the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation must be restored so the public can trust these institutions to make decisions solely on the facts and the law and totally devoid of political bias or consideration," the chairmen wrote.

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