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Justice Department officials challenge Trump's claim that report about Clinton's email probe 'exonerates' him

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump claimed that a Department of Justice report last week 'totally exonerates me' with regard to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.
  • "We did not look into collusion questions," Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday.
  • "I don't think this report speaks to the special counsel investigation," FBI Director Christopher Wray said.
FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Examining the Inspector General’s First Report on Justice Department and FBI Actions in Advance of the 2016 Presidential Election,” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 18, 2018.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

The top watchdog at the Department of Justice and the director of the FBI on Monday refuted President Donald Trump's claim that a Justice Department report made public last week "totally exonerates me." 

Trump had claimed upon release of the more than 500 page report on Friday that it cleared him of any collusion with Russia during the 2016 election or any obstruction of justice after the election. 

However, Justice officials begged to differ, noting that the report had nothing to do with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 

"We did not look into collusion questions," Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee at a highly anticipated hearing about his report on the FBI's handling of the 2016 Clinton email investigation. "We did not address the credibility of the special counsel's investigation here," he said later in the hearing.

"I don't think this report speaks to the special counsel investigation," FBI Director Christopher Wray said. 

The statements from the top officials contradict the president's own claims about the inspector general's report. Those claims were the basis for Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney, to call for halting Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe last week. 

Trump had announced a political victory following the release of the Justice Department report.

"I think that the report yesterday, maybe more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me," Trump told reporters during a wandering interview on the White House North Lawn on Friday. "There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And if you read the report, you'll see that."

The same day, Giuliani said it was time to "investigate the investigators." 

"Let's take a halt to the Mueller investigation. Let's stop it, and let's turn it, and get rid of all of the agents doing the Mueller investigation," Giuliani said. 

The inspector general's report examined specific investigative steps the FBI took during its probe of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state. The report found that there was no evidence that political bias influenced decisions that were made as part of that investigation.