President Trump was set to receive a briefing Thursday on the highly anticipated inspector general report on law enforcement’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe before its release to the public later in the afternoon.
The 500-page report is expected to criticize former FBI director James B. Comey and other senior law enforcement officials for decisions they made that affected the course of the inquiry on Clinton’s use of a private email server, as well as how they conducted themselves during the investigation.
A Justice Department spokesman indicated Thursday that the report will include discussion of additional text messages between the former top FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The inspector general has previously unearthed an exchange of pro-Clinton, anti-Trump texts between the two. Trump has seized on the exchange to argue bias against him within the FBI.
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was expected to conduct the briefing for Trump, people familiar with the matter said. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill also will get briefings ahead of the report’s public release, aides said.
The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, announced last week that his office would release its report Thursday — which is also Trump’s birthday.
The president “is really anxious to see the report,” said a person familiar with the planned Thursday briefing.
Trump is widely expected to use the inspector general findings to launch fresh attacks against not only Clinton but also the law enforcement officials behind special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe, which Trump has repeatedly referred to as a “witch hunt.”
Trump lashed out anew at the investigation on Thursday in a pair of tweets.
“Now that I am back from Singapore, where we had a great result with respect to North Korea, the thought process must sadly go back to the Witch Hunt, always remembering that there was No Collusion and No Obstruction of the fabricated No Crime,” the president wrote.
In another tweet, he referred to the investigation as a “pile of garbage.”
The inspector general’s report was originally expected in May, and earlier this month, Trump questioned on Twitter whether its publication had been delayed because the findings were “being changed and made weaker.” The inspector general wrote in his letter to lawmakers announcing the June 14 date that his office was following the “ordinary processes” for completing reports.
Inspector general spokesman John Lavinsky said in a statement this week that the office occasionally gives pre-release briefings to Congress and the media, adding that “for the Justice Department to brief the White House in the same manner and at the same time as the OIG briefs Congress and the press is consistent with this process.”
OIG refers to the Office of Inspector General.
Lavinsky noted that Justice Department officials had similarly briefed the Obama White House in 2012 upon completion of its report on the scandal involving the gunrunning project known as Operation Fast and Furious. He added that “no changes are made to the OIG’s report on account of these briefings.”
In an interview with the Hill’s new television show “Rising,” which aired Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he is open to firing employees if the inspector general’s report warrants it.
“I think it will be a lengthy report and a careful report,” Sessions said. “I think it will help us better fix any problems that we have and reassure the American people that some of the concerns that have been raised are not true.”