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Tuesday, Nov. 01, 2016 at 12:15 PM
The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party continue to attack FBI Director James Comey for his letter to Congress October 28 announcing new “investigative steps” against the Democratic presidential candidate over her use of a private email server while Secretary of State.
The release of Comey’s letter has touched off a political and media firestorm, with Republican candidate Donald Trump claiming that Clinton is on the brink of indictment and arrest, while supporters of Clinton, both in the political establishment and the media, have criticized Comey for the timing of his announcement, only 11 days before the election.
While Clinton and her supporters have demanded that Comey clarify his vague, 166-word letter, the official FBI response has been to declare that there are so many emails found on a laptop belonging to former Representative Anthony Weiner, estranged husband of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, that it will be impossible to draw any conclusions about their significance or relevance to the Clinton email investigation until after the November 8 election.
This underscores the extraordinary character of Comey’s letter, which dropped a political bombshell on the eve of the vote, highly detrimental to Clinton, without any underlying factual underpinning.
The most significant response to the Comey letter has come from dozens of former Justice Department and FBI officials, from both Democratic and Republican administrations, who have denounced the FBI director for violating a longstanding rule that neither agency should make any politically sensitive announcement within 60 days of an election.
A bipartisan group of nearly 100 such officials signed a letter questioning Comey’s decision. Former attorney general Eric Holder was the most prominent Democratic signer, while former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson, from the George W. Bush administration, was the most prominent Republican.
Thompson and Jamie Gorelick, deputy attorney general in the administration of Bill Clinton, co-authored an op-ed column in the Washington Post Sunday under the headline, “James Comey is damaging our democracy.”
They wrote: “Decades ago, the department decided that in the 60-day period before an election, the balance should be struck against even returning indictments involving individuals running for office, as well as against the disclosure of any investigative steps… A memorandum reflecting this choice has been issued every four years by multiple attorneys general for a very long time, including in 2016.”
They concluded, “As it stands, we now have real-time, raw-take transparency taken to its illogical limit, a kind of reality TV of federal criminal investigation. Perhaps worst of all, it is happening on the eve of a presidential election. It is antithetical to the interests of justice, putting a thumb on the scale of this election and damaging our democracy.”
An op-ed column from Holder was published in Monday’s edition of the Post, declaring the Comey letter “a serious mistake.” Holder was responsible for the selection of the former Bush administration official, a registered Republican, to succeed Robert Mueller as FBI director in 2013, when Obama appointed him to a ten-year term.
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