The Washington Post reports: Senior Justice Department officials warned the FBI that Director James B. Comey’s decision to notify Congress about renewing the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server was not consistent with long-standing practices of the department, according to officials familiar with the discussions.
FBI officials who work closely with Comey on Thursday contacted attorneys at the Justice Department. Their message: Comey intended to inform lawmakers of newly discovered emails potentially connected to the Clinton email investigation.
Justice officials reminded the FBI of the department’s position “that we don’t comment on an ongoing investigation. And we don’t take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election,” said one Justice Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the high-level conversations.
“Director Comey understood our position. He heard it from Justice leadership,” the official said. “It was conveyed to the FBI, and Comey made an independent decision to alert the Hill. He is operating independently of the Justice Department. And he knows it.”
Comey’s decision less than two weeks before the presidential election has stunned former and current law enforcement officials and rocked the Clinton campaign, which appeared to be coasting to victory. [Continue reading…]
Simon Tisdall writes: Comey’s move is either extremely naive or extremely cynical. FBI investigations are routinely conducted behind closed doors. Only when a decision to prosecute has been taken, based on persuasive evidence, is an inquiry made public or suspects named.
For a respected, ostensibly independent figure like the FBI director to tip his hand at this extraordinarily sensitive moment amounts to an overtly political, partisan act. Since it must be assumed that Comey is no fool, it must also be assumed that he knew what he was doing.
A less damning explanation is that he was clumsily attempting to save the FBI (and himself) further criticism from the Republican right, which denounced his earlier investigatory efforts as a pro-Hillary cover-up. But if that is the case, why did Comey not have a confidential word with the relevant congressional oversight committees? Nobody could then subsequently accuse him of a cover-up. And he would not have triggered the firestorm in which the FBI’s impartiality is again being questioned, and this time from the left. [Continue reading…]