Parts of the statements by Mr. Trump and Ms. Sanders are at odds with the public record and with the findings of the inspector general’s report. While Democrats were furious with Mr. Comey over his public statements about the Clinton email server case — at a news conference and in a pair of letters in the middle of the campaign — they were deeply alarmed by his removal, given his role in the Russia investigation.
In his report, the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, pointedly criticized Mr. Comey for breaking with longstanding policy to publicly discuss the Clinton case, and he castigated “insubordinate” senior officials who worked with Mr. Comey for privately criticizing Mr. Trump even as they investigated him. But he ultimately said he had found no evidence to believe that the decision not to charge Mrs. Clinton for her use of a private email server in handling classified information “were affected by bias or other improper considerations.”
“Rather, we concluded that they were based on the prosecutor’s assessment of facts, the law and past department practice,” he wrote.
Mr. McCabe, who briefly served as acting director after Mr. Comey was removed, was fired last March for failing to be forthcoming with investigators about an unrelated conversation he had authorized between F.B.I. officials and a journalist. Mr. McCabe argued that the firing was politically motivated and designed to hinder the Russia investigation. Other members of Mr. Comey’s team have also been fired or left the bureau.
Mr. Comey responded on Twitter on Saturday with a quotation attributed to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
The Times report cited former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation, as well as private testimony that the F.B.I.’s former general counsel, James A. Baker, delivered to Congress related to the inquiry.
“Not only would it be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security,” Mr. Baker said in his testimony, portions of which were read to The New York Times.
Some former law enforcement officials outside the case have since debated whether F.B.I. investigators overreacted in opening the counterintelligence inquiry during a chaotic period after Mr. Comey’s firing. Other former officials noted that those critics were not privy to all of the evidence and argued that sitting on it would have been an abdication of duty.