FBI’s Comey opposed naming Russians, citing election timing

CNBC reports: FBI Director James Comey argued privately that it was too close to Election Day for the United States government to name Russia as meddling in the U.S. election and ultimately ensured that the FBI’s name was not on the document that the U.S. government put out, a former bureau official tells CNBC.

The official said some government insiders are perplexed as to why Comey would have election timing concerns with the Russian disclosure but not with the Huma Abedin email discovery disclosure he made Friday.

In the end, the Department of Homeland Security and The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued the statement on Oct. 7, saying: “The U.S. intelligence community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations. … These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”

An FBI spokesperson declined to comment on Comey’s role in the decision-making surrounding the Oct. 7 statement.

According to the former official, Comey agreed with the conclusion the intelligence community came to: “A foreign power was trying to undermine the election. He believed it to be true, but was against putting it out before the election.” Comey’s position, this official said, was “if it is said, it shouldn’t come from the FBI, which as you’ll recall it did not.”
Comey took a different approach toward releasing information about the discovery of emails on a laptop that was used by former congressman Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife Huma Abedin, the official said.

“By doing a press conference, and personally testifying and giving his opinion about the conduct, he made this about James Comey and his credibility,” the official said. “You can see why he did it, from his perspective, once he had had that press conference.”

The official said FBI investigators can get a “preliminary read” of the newly discovered emails within a couple of days and come to an initial conclusion about whether there is classified material in the files. “The questions is whether they will decide to share that read or not,” the official said. “Normally in the FBI we would not, but we’re not in normal land anymore.” [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: In December 2014, it was the FBI that publicly pointed the finger at North Korea for hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment and damaging its computers. That was because the attribution to Pyongyang was based on the FBI investigation, said a senior administration official. In the Russian case, the attribution was based on a fusion of intelligence from intelligence agencies, the bureau and private-sector cyber experts, the official said. “So it made sense that the people who were responsible for integrating all of that information” — the ODNI — should be part of the announcement, he said.

DHS joined the attribution because it is the agency responsible for working with state and local governments in protecting election systems.

The announcement did not mention the White House, which also had been very concerned about appearing to influence the election. [Continue reading…]

Not that Barack and Michelle Obama’s speeches at Hillary Clinton campaign rallies might create such an appearance… I guess they just tell their staffers they’ll be out on golfing or shopping excursions, but just by chance, along the way, happen to find themselves behind a podium or a few.

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