Dept. of Justice watchdog launches probe into FBI, handling of Clinton email investigation

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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department‘s internal watchdog announced Thursday it has launched a probe into the department and the FBI‘s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton‘s private email server.

The announcement, which was expected, comes after criticism of the Justice Department’s handling of the investigation, particularly on how the public was notified.

The email controversy a major issue on the 2016 campaign trail. A message left with Clinton’s office was not immediately returned.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said the decision to initiate a review was prompted by requests from numerous members of Congress and public inquiries.

Horowitz’s office said the review will examine several allegations, including that DOJ or FBI policies were not followed when FBI Director James Comey publicly stated last July that his bureau would not pursue criminal charges against Clinton; that DOJ and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information; and that the timing of the FBI’s release of certain Freedom of Information Act requests right before the election was improper.

The White House said Thursday it wasn’t involved in the decision to investigate.

“Decisions that are made by inspectors general across the administration are independent, and this administration has assiduously protected the independence of inspectors general,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at a briefing.