“What we did was conduct the investigation in the way we normally conduct a criminal investigation,” Holder said in a news conference in New Orleans.

He said the inquiry was handled “in an impartial way. We follow the facts. We do not share outside the Justice Department, outside the FBI, the facts of ongoing investigations.”…

Holder fired back Thursday, saying the Justice Department “made the determination as we were going through that there was not a threat to national security.” Because of that conclusion, he said, there was no reason to advise officials outside the department before the investigation was complete.

The FBI notified the executive branch with a call to Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. on the evening of Election Day, Nov. 6. Holder said the call was made then because the bureau had “conducted a critical interview the Friday before. When we got to that point, we thought it appropriate to notify the president.”