WASHINGTON — The former F.B.I. director James B. Comey was insubordinate in his handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, a critical Justice Department report has concluded, according to officials and others who saw or were briefed on it.
But the report, by the department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, does not challenge the decision not to prosecute Mrs. Clinton. Nor does it conclude that political bias at the F.B.I. influenced that decision, the officials said.
“We found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations,” the report said, according to one official who read the sentence to The New York Times. “Rather, we concluded that they were based on the prosecutor’s assessment of facts, the law, and past department practice.”
The report has been highly anticipated in Washington, not least by President Trump, who has argued that a secret coterie of F.B.I. agents rigged the investigation to help Mrs. Clinton win the presidency. The findings, as described by officials who spoke on condition of anonymity before the report’s release Thursday afternoon, cite no evidence to support that theory.
Nevertheless, the report paints an unflattering picture of one of the most tumultuous periods in the 110-year history of the F.B.I., when agents investigated Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server to store classified information and the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia.
The report criticizes the conduct of F.B.I. officials who exchanged texts disparaging Mr. Trump during the campaign. The officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, were involved in both the Clinton and Russia investigations, leading Mr. Trump’s supporters to suspect a conspiracy against him. Many of those text messages have been released, but the inspector general cites a previously undisclosed message in which Mr. Strzok says the F.B.I. “will stop” Mr. Trump, according to two of the officials.
The inspector general said that, because of his views, Mr. Strzok may have improperly prioritized the Russia investigation over the Clinton investigation during the final weeks of the campaign. The F.B.I. officials “brought discredit” to themselves and sowed public doubt about the investigation. But the report did not cite evidence that Mr. Strzok had acted improperly or influenced the outcome of the investigation, the officials said.
“Our review did not find evidence to connect the political views expressed in these messages to the specific investigative decisions that we reviewed,” the report said, according to the