The Justice Department's internal watchdog has concluded that James Comey defied authority at times during his tenure as FBI director, according to sources familiar with a draft report on the matter.
One source told ABC News that the draft report explicitly used the word "insubordinate" to describe Comey's behavior. Another source agreed with that characterization but could not confirm the use of the term.
In the draft report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz also rebuked former Attorney General Loretta Lynch for her handling of the federal investigation into Hillary Clinton's personal email server, the sources said.
On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump complained of "numerous delays" in the release of Horowitz's final report, which is expected to run several hundred pages long and be released in the coming days. The sources who spoke to ABC News were willing or able to address only a portion of the draft report's complete findings.
"What is taking so long with the Inspector General's Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey," Trump said on Twitter. "Hope report is not being changed and made weaker!"
There is no indication the president has seen – or will see – a draft of the report before its release. Horowitz, however, could revise the draft report now that current and former officials mentioned in it have offered their responses to the inspector general's conclusions, according to the sources.
Almost from the start, the long-awaited report was expected to chastise Comey for his handling of the Clinton-related probe. But in apparently describing Comey's defiance of authority, the draft report was criticizing a man who prided himself on his leadership style at the FBI and has since dedicated his post-government life to promoting a new generation of effective leaders.
The draft of Horowitz's wide-ranging report specifically called out Comey for ignoring objections from the Justice Department when he disclosed in a letter to Congress just days before the 2016 presidential election that FBI agents had reopened the Clinton probe, according to sources. Clinton has said that letter doomed her campaign.
Before Comey sent the letter to Congress, at least one senior Justice Department official told the FBI that publicizing the bombshell move so close to an election would violate longstanding department policy, and it would ignore federal guidelines prohibiting the disclosure of information related to an ongoing investigation, ABC News was told.
A not-so-gentle reminder then that James Comey was largely responsible for Clinton's close loss, but I'm sure Republicans will ignore than part and just concentrate on Loretta Lynch.
We'll see where this goes, and who knows how much of the IG report we'll get to actually see, but if anything, this will be used for cover by Trump that he didn't fire Comey over loyalty reasons, and instead he just waited five months to fire him over "the Clinton thing".
I don't buy it, and Mueller knows the truth.