Former Hillary for America campaign chairman John Podesta was interviewed on the latest episode of The Global Politico podcast. While there are a few comments in the interview about the 2016 election, the majority of the interview is about President Donald Trump, his firing of FBI Director James Comey, and whether Republicans can impeach Trump without damaging the party. Podesta is critical of Trump’s presidency and still blames Comey for Clinton’s loss last November. He said, “I still think what Jim Comey did last fall was wrong, but he shouldn’t have been fired, given the circumstances that he was leading this investigation.” Read a transcript of the interview HERE, or you can listen to the interview below.
On Tuesday afternoon, Hillary Clinton was a guest of the Women for Women International Luncheon in New York City. During the event, Clinton had a conversation with Christiane Amanpour. The two discussed a number of issues including the Donald Trump administration, a potential conflict with North Korea, and the 2016 presidential election. While Clinton accepted the blame for her loss, she said that there were a number of other factors including the letter from FBI Director James Comey and Russian hacking of the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary for America Campaign Director John Podesta.
Clinton said she would have won the election if it had not been for the Comey letter and Wikileaks in late October adding, “If the election had been held on October 27, I’d be your president, and it wasn’t. It was on October 28.” Clinton did not deflect all of the blame saying that her campaign made mistakes. “I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot and I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had,” she admitted. Clinton vowed to remain active in politics as a citizen and urged everyone to do the same. Watch a video from the event below.
On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered that the search warrant that many have faulted for Hillary Clinton’s loss be unsealed. The warrant called for the investigation of emails between Clinton and aide Huma Abedin that were found on a laptop belonging to Abedin’s ex-husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner. The document does not provide in detail what the FBI hoped to find, and the investigation ultimately turned up nothing. The warrant was approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox.
Many people have criticized the timing of the investigation by the FBI and the manner in which FBI director James Comey handled the investigation. He sent a letter to Congress two weeks before the election saying that the email investigation had been reopened. A few days later they concluded that no new evidence was found, but the damage to Clinton had been done. Despite winning the popular vote, Clinton lost the electoral college and the presidency. Clinton and her former campaign staffers blame Comey and the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary for America chair John Podesta for their loss.
Read a copy of the warrant below or download a PDF copy HERE.
The chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, John Podesta, published an op-ed in The Washington Post criticizing the FBI for its handling of Clinton’s email investigation and the hacking of his emails as well as the emails of the Democratic National Committee. Read Podesta’s full op-ed below:
Something is deeply broken at the FBI
By: John Podesta
December 15, 2016
The more we learn about the Russian plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and elect Donald Trump, and the failure of the FBI to adequately respond, the more shocking it gets. The former acting director of the CIA has called the Russian cyberattack “the political equivalent of 9/11.” Just as after the real 9/11, we need a robust, independent investigation into what went wrong inside the government and how to better protect our country in the future.
As the former chair of the Clinton campaign and a direct target of Russian hacking, I understand just how serious this is. So I was surprised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI discovered the Russian attack in September 2015, it failed to send even a single agent to warn senior Democratic National Committee officials. Instead, messages were left with the DNC IT “help desk.” As a former head of the FBI cyber division told the Times, this is a baffling decision: “We are not talking about an office that is in the middle of the woods of Montana.”
What takes this from baffling to downright infuriating is that at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server.
This trip was part of what FBI Director James B. Comey described as a “painstaking” investigation of Clinton’s emails, “requiring thousands of hours of effort” from dozens of agents who conducted at least 80 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of documents. Of course, as Comey himself concluded, in the end, there was no case; it was not even a close call.
Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI.
Comey justified his handling of the email case by citing “intense public interest.” He felt so strongly that he broke long-established precedent and disregarded strong guidance from the Justice Department with his infamous letter just 11 days before the election. Yet he refused to join the rest of the intelligence community in a statement about the Russian cyberattack because he reportedly didn’t want to appear “political.” And both before and after the election, the FBI has refused to say whether it is investigating Trump’s ties to Russia.
There are now reports that Vladimir Putin personally directed the covert campaign to elect Trump. So are teams of FBI agents busy looking into the reported meeting in Moscow this summer between Carter Page, a Trump foreign policy adviser, and the Putin aide in charge of Russian intelligence on the U.S. election? What about evidence that Roger Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks and knew in advance that my hacked emails were about to be leaked? Are thousands of FBI person-hours being devoted to uncovering Trump’s tangled web of debts and business deals with foreign entities in Russia and elsewhere?
Meanwhile, House Republicans who had an insatiable appetite for investigating Clinton have been resistant to probing deeply into Russia’s efforts to swing the election to Trump. The media, by gleefully publishing the gossipy fruits of Russian hacks, became what the Times itself calls “a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.”
But the FBI’s role is particularly troubling because of its power and responsibility — and because this is part of a trend. The Justice Department’s Inspector General issued a damning report this summer about the FBI’s failure to prioritize cyberthreats more broadly.
The election is over and the damage is done, but the threat from Russia and other potential aggressors remains urgent and demands a serious and sustained response.
First, the Obama administration should quickly declassify as much as possible concerning what is known about the Russian hack, as requested by seven Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Second, the administration should brief members of the electoral college on the extent and manner of Russia’s interference in our election before they vote on Dec. 19, as requested by a bipartisan group of electors.
Third, Congress should authorize a far-reaching, bipartisan independent investigation modeled on the 9/11 Commission. The public deserves to know exactly what happened, why and what can be done to prevent future attacks. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) have introduced legislation to authorize such an investigation.
Finally, Congress should more vigorously exercise its oversight to determine why the FBI responded overzealously in the Clinton case and insufficiently in the Russian case. The FBI should also clarify whether there is an ongoing investigation into Trump, his associates and their ties to Russia. If ever there were a case of “intense public interest,” this is it. What’s broken in the FBI must be fixed and quickly.
News Source: The Washington Post
FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to ranking members of Congress on Sunday with the bureau’s conclusions following an investigation into emails found on a computer owned by former Congressman Anthony Weiner. The emails were related to Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. In his letter, Comey says that the FBI stands by its decision to not bring a case against Clinton and that the new emails yielded no new information. Comes said that “based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.” Since the FBI announced it was looking into the emails last week, the Clinton campaign has maintained that there was nothing new to be found. News sources indicate that the majority of the emails found on the computer were duplicates of the emails already reviewed by the bureau. Read the full letter from the FBI director below or download a PDF HERE.
Sunday, as reported by the Associated Press, a group of nearly 100 former federal prosecutors and high-ranking DOJ officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations, including former AG Eric Holder and former Deputy AG Larry Thompson, issued the following joint letter expressing serious concerns over FBI Director Comey’s departure from long-standing department protocols:
As former federal prosecutors and high-ranking officials of the U.S. Department of Justice, we know that the impartiality and nonpartisanship of the United States justice system makes it exceptional throughout the world. To maintain fairness and neutrality, federal law enforcement officials must exercise discipline whenever they make public statements in connection with an ongoing investigation. Often, evidence uncovered during the course of an investigative inquiry is incomplete, misleading or even incorrect, and releasing such information before all of the facts are known and tested in a court of law can unfairly prejudice individuals and undermine the public’s faith in the integrity of our legal process.
For this reason, Justice Department officials are instructed to refrain from commenting publicly on the existence, let alone the substance, of pending investigative matters, except in exceptional circumstances and with explicit approval from the Department of Justice officials responsible for ultimate supervision of the matter. They are also instructed to exercise heightened restraint near the time of a primary or general election because, as official guidance from the Department instructs, public comment on a pending investigative matter may affect the electoral process and create the appearance of political interference in the fair administration of justice.
It is out of our respect for such settled tenets of the United States Department of Justice that we are moved to express our concern with the recent letter issued by FBI Director James Comey to eight Congressional Committees. Many of us have worked with Director Comey; all of us respect him. But his unprecedented decision to publicly comment on evidence in what may be an ongoing inquiry just eleven days before a presidential election leaves us both astonished and perplexed. We cannot recall a prior instance where a senior Justice Department official—Republican or Democrat—has, on the eve of a major election, issued a public statement where the mere disclosure of information may impact the election’s outcome, yet the official acknowledges the information to be examined may not be significant or new.
Director Comey’s letter is inconsistent with prevailing Department policy, and it breaks with longstanding practices followed by officials of both parties during past elections. Moreover, setting aside whether Director Comey’s original statements in July were warranted, by failing to responsibly supplement the public record with any substantive, explanatory information, his letter begs the question that further commentary was necessary. For example, the letter provides no details regarding the content, source or recipient of the material; whether the newly-discovered evidence contains any classified or confidential information; whether the information duplicates material previously reviewed by the FBI; or even “whether or not [the] material may be significant.”
Perhaps most troubling to us is the precedent set by this departure from the Department’s widely-respected, non-partisan traditions. The admonitions that warn officials against making public statements during election periods have helped to maintain the independence and integrity of both the Department’s important work and public confidence in the hardworking men and women who conduct themselves in a nonpartisan manner.
We believe that adherence to longstanding Justice Department guidelines is the best practice when considering public statements on investigative matters. We do not question Director Comey’s motives. However, the fact remains that the Director’s disclosure has invited considerable, uninformed public speculation about the significance of newly-discovered material just days before a national election. For this reason, we believe the American people deserve all the facts, and fairness dictates releasing information that provides a full and complete picture regarding the material at issue.
- Eric H. Holder, former Attorney General of the United States
- Stuart M. Gerson, former Acting Attorney General of the United States, former Assistant Attorney General
- Donald B. Ayer, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States
- James M. Cole, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States
- Jamie S. Gorelick, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States
- Gary G. Grindler, former Acting Deputy Attorney General of the United States
- Larry D. Thompson, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States
- David W. Ogden, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States
- Wayne A. Budd, former Associate Attorney General of the United States, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
- Tony West, former Associate Attorney General of the United States
- Neal Kumar Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General of the United States
- Lanny A. Breuer, former Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division
- Christine A. Varney, former Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division
- Lourdes Baird, former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California
- Paul Coggins, former U.S. Attorney for Northern District of Texas
- Jenny Durkan, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington
- Melinda L. Haag, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California
- Timothy Heaphy, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia
- Scott R. Lassar, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
- Michael D. McKay, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington
- Harry Litman, former U.S. Attorney for Western District of Pennsylvania
- Neil H. MacBride, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
- Bill Nettles, former U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina
- Timothy Q. Purdon, former U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota
- Donald Stern, former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts
- Anne M. Tompkins, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina
- Elkan Abramowitz, former Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
- David B. Anders, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Jodi L. Avergun, former Section Chief, U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division
- Marion Bachrach, former Chief of General Crimes, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
- Richard Ben-Veniste, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and former Assistant Watergate Prosecutor
- Shay Bilchik, former Director, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
- David M. Buckner, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida
- Alex Busansky, former prosecutor, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
- Helen V. Cantwell, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Sandra Cavazos, former Assistant US Attorney for the Northern District of California and the Eastern District of New York
- Charles E. Clayman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
- Joel M. Cohen, former Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
- Leo P. Cunningham, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California
- Bert Deixler, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California
- Keir Dougall, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
- Ira M. Feinberg, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Cary M. Feldman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
- Martin Flumenbaum, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Stuart L. Gasner, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii
- Douglas F. Gansler, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and former Attorney General of Maryland
- Faith Gay, former Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecutions and Civil Rights Divisions, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
- Gerald Greenberg, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida
- Fred Hafetz, former Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
- John Heuston, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California
- Michele Hirshman, former Chief of the General Crimes and Public Corruption Units, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
- Sydney Hoffmann, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
- June M. Jeffries, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
- Marcia Jensen, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California
- John Joseph, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Nancy Kestenbaum, former Chief of General Crimes, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
- David V. Kirby, former Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont
- Barbara E. Kittay, former prosecutor, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
- David S. Krakoff, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
- Larry H. Krantz, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
- Miriam Krinsky, former Chief of General Crimes, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California
- Laurie Levenson, former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Central District of California
- Tim Lewis, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and former federal judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals
- Lori Lightfoot, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
- Debra Long-Doyle, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
- Carl H. Loewenson, Jr., former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Jeffrey Marcus, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida
- Richard Marmaro, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California
- Douglass B. Maynard, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Seth Miles, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida
- Amy Millard, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Curtis B. Miner, dormer Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida
- Cynthia Monaco, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
- Martin Perschetz, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Elliot R. Peters, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Karen A. Popp, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
- Jeff Rabkin, former Assistant U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and for the Northern District of California
- Daniel L. Rashbaum, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Southern District of Florida
- Alicia Strohl Resnicoff, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- David H. Resnicoff, former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Lawrence Robbins, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
- Frank A. Rothermel, former U.S. Department of Justice Civil Fraud Prosecutor
- Lee Rubin, former prosecutor, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
- Betty Santangelo, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- John Savarese, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Richard L. Scheff, former Chief of the Corruption and Labor Divisions, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- William Schwartz, former Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
- John Siffert, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- David Sklansky, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California
- Matthew E. Sloan, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Central District of California
- Judge Mike Snipes, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas
- Stephen R. Spivack, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
- Jeremy H. Temkin, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Eric Tirschwell, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
- Michael Tremonte, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
- Amy Walsh, former Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
- Richard D. Weinberg, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Peter Zeidenberg, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section
- Lawrence J. Zweifach, former Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
News Source: The Briefing
On Sunday, representatives for Hillary for America appeared a number of Sunday morning talk show. Tim Kaine was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, campaign manager Robby Mook was interviewed by Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press, and campaign chair John Podesta was interviewed by Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union. Each were asked about the FBI’s renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Kaine called for FBI Director James Comey to release additional details about the investigation and questioned whether Comey had even seen the emails in question.
Mook said that while it seems the emails were discovered on a computer owned by former Representative Anthony Weiner, he is confident that there is no new information to be found and that Weiner’s wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin, has cooperated with the FBI’s investigation. On CNN, Podesta called on Comey to explain the move adding, “This is something that has been tossed into the middle of the campaign. We would have preferred that that not happen, but now that it has happened, we would prefer that Mr. Comey come forward and explain why he took that unprecedented step.” Videos of the interviews are below.
Hillary Clinton spoke at a canvass kick-off rally in Daytona Beach, Florida on Saturday. She began the event by addressing yesterday’s revelation that the FBI is is looking into “new evidence” related to her emails. Clinton called on FBI Director James Comey to release the full details of the investigation for the benefit of American voters saying, “Some of you may have heard about a letter written by the FBI director. You probably have a few questions about it. It is pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election. In fact, it’s not just strange, it’s unprecedented and deeply troubling.”
Clinton then gave one of her typical campaign stump speeches in which she laid out several of her proposed policies. She stressed the importance of the election and said it is about more then just Republican vs. Democrat. This election is about the direction of our country. She said, “Everything we care about is at stake. The American dream itself is at stake.” Clinton said that Donald Trump’s hope is that women, young people, and minorities do not turn out to vote, but she urged everyone to vote saying, “That goes against everything we stand for. And do you know how to stop him? By showing up with the greatest turnout of voters ever. Let’s break every record.” Watch a video Clinton’s speech below.
News Source: Orlando Sentinel
On Saturday, Hillary for America responded to the revelation that the FBI has found “additional evidence” related to Hillary Clinton’s email with a call for more information from the FBI and Director James Comey. Campaign Chair John Podesta and Manager Robby Mook held a press phone briefing earlier today. A transcript of their comments is below:
CAMPAIGN CHAIR JOHN PODESTA: The extraordinary letter that was long on innuendo and short on facts that Director Comey sent yesterday to eight Republican committee chairs. Twenty-four hours after that letter was sent, we have no real explanation of why Director Comey decided to send that letter to congressional leaders. In fact, the more information that has come out, the more overblown this all seems, and the more concern it creates about Director Comey’s actions. For starters, it seems clear that some of initial characterizations of the FBI’s actions were inaccurate, despite initial reporting that the letter amounted to the quote, unquote, “Reopening of the investigation concluded last July.” It seems that that is not at all the case. That notion was pushed of course was by Congressman Jason Chaffetz.
It is not surprising that Congressman Chaffetz would take the opportunity to distort the facts to mount an attack on Hillary Clinton. This is someone who has promised to launch years of new Hillary Clinton investigations when she is president. Even conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, and said earlier this week that Chaffetz says undermined his own legitimacy and he was – that he was “obsessed with finding something, anything to hang around Hillary Clinton’s neck.” So while some initially ran with the notion that an investigation was being reopened, those were Chaffetz’s words, not Comey’s, and outlets have already walked back this claim.
But this is exactly the problem that Director Comey has created with sending off his letter just 11 days out from the presidential election. By providing selective information, he has allowed partisans to distort and exaggerate in order to inflict maximum political damage, and no one can separate what is true from what is not because Comey is not been forthcoming with the facts. What little Comey has told us makes it hard to understand why this step has been warranted at all. For instance, he says, quote, “The FBI cannot assess whether or not this material may even be significant,” unquote.
And the reporting that has surfaced in the hour since this letter surfaced create even more confusion why Comey would have raised this on the eve of the election. NBC has reported from law enforcement sources that the emails in question were never withheld by Hillary Clinton or the Clinton campaign. NBC reported that the emails in question did not come from Clinton’s server at all. That has now been corroborated by a slew of other news outlets, and according to the Los Angeles Times, Clinton did not even personally or receive any of the emails in question.
Reports indicate that many of these emails are likely duplicates of ones that have already been turned over and reviewed by the bureau and its investigation last July. It is in fact entirely possible all the emails in question are just that, duplicates. So that is what we have learned from reporting in the wake of Director Comey’s message to congressional leaders. So just to recap and to put this in perspective, there is no evidence of wrong doing, no charge of wrong doing, no indication that this is even about Hillary. In fact, there are reports that the emails they want to look at are duplicates of things they already have and aren’t even from or to Hillary.
Even Director Comey said, “This may not be significant.” If that is all true, it is hard to see how this amounts to anything, and we are not going to be distracted, and Hillary is not going to be distracted in the final days of this election over nothing. But we should not be forced to get this information from second and third hand sources, from leaks, from law enforcement and FBI sources, Director Comey was the one who decided to take this unprecedented step. We now learned against the advice of senior Justice Department officials, who told him it was against long-standing department policy from Democratic and Republican administrations. Director Comey was the one who wrote a letter that was light on facts, heavy on innuendo, knowing full well what Republicans in Congress would do with it. It’s now up to him, who owes the public answers to the questions that are now on the table, and we’re calling on him to come forward and give those answers to the American public. So with that, let me turn it over to our campaign manager, Robby Mook.
CAMPAIGN MANAGER ROBBY MOOK: Well, thank you John, and this is a very concerning situation. As John explained, the more information that comes out, the more overblown this entire situation seems to be. That, in turn, has raised more questions about Director Comey from his colleagues in law enforcement circles to take this extraordinary step 11 days out from the presidential election. Just this morning, there is a startling report in the Washington Post saying that senior Justice Department officials warned Director Comey not to do this and that it was inconsistent with the practices of the department. He was apparently told that “we do not comment on an ongoing investigation, and we don’t take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election,” according to one Justice official who spoke to the Post. As a result of this, Comey has come under considerable pressure from not just Democrats but also Republicans and legal experts alike.
The Washington Post amplifies this point. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Akerman says, “Director Comey acted totally inappropriately. He has no business writing to Congress about supposed new emails that neither he nor anyone in the FBI had ever reviewed. It is not the function of the FBI director to be making public pronouncements about an investigation, never mind about an investigation based on evidence that he acknowledges may not be significant.”
Also former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg said he respects Comey, however, quote, “I don’t understand this idea of dropping this bombshell, which could be a big dud. Doing it in the last week or 10 days of a presidential election without more information, I don’t think that he, I don’t think he should because how does it inform voters? It just invites speculation.” And in addition, former Justice Department spokesperson, Matt Miller, said, “The Justice Department’s long-time, long-standing practice is ‘don’t do anything seen as trying to influence an election.’ That’s usually interpreted as 60 days, let alone 11. It’s completely unfair to Secretary Clinton, and it’s really unfair to the voters. There’s no reason he had to send this letter.”
And finally, according to reports, Attorney General Loretta Lynch “expressed her preference that Comey follow the department’s long-standing practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations and not taking any action that could influence the outcome of an election,” but he said he felt compelled to do otherwise. So as John said, “It’s now incumbent on Director Comey to immediately provide the American people with more information than what is contained in his letter.” He owes the public the whole story, or else he shouldn’t have cracked open this door in the first place. Both campaigns and leaders in both parties of Congress are in full agreement on this fact.
And the last thing I’d say before I turn it back to Brian is that based on the anecdotes I’m hearing from our team on the ground, this situation has created an urgency, an intensity among our volunteers and activists that was already high because we are so close to the election but that our volunteers are rallying behind Hillary. They know what a fighter she is. I think they were heartened that she came out and addressed this so forthrightly, that she is calling for the full story to be told. And they’re as upset and concerned as we are here, and they are turning out, not only to have her back but to rally our supporters to turn out and vote as early voting goes into full swing. And we’re not just seeing this in our offices on the ground, but also in our, in our online, in the online space as well. And the, I think this is, we already had momentum and wind behind our back going into yesterday. I think this has only increased the momentum that we’re feeling among our activists on the ground.
In addition, HFA released two briefs featuring articles and coverage from the press showing that as more details have been released, the less significant the evidence appears. The releases are below:
Comey Under Fire After Sending Unprecedented Letter
FBI Director James Comey is under widespread criticism for breaking department precedent by commenting on an ongoing investigation, and doing so just days before a presidential election. Indeed, the Washington Post reported this morning senior Justice Department officials made perfectly clear to Comey that he would be in violation of long-standing DOJ policy.
Moreover, according to CNN, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates both objected to Comey sending this inappropriate letter to Congress. Nevertheless, Director Comey independently decided to move forward, rattling the presidential election with a note that was heavy on innuendo and extremely light on actual information or needed details.
The result? Broad bipartisan condemnation and demands for the swift disclosure of more information:
Washington Post: Justice officials warned FBI that Comey’s decision to update Congress was not consistent with department policy: “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. Comey told Justice Department officials that he intended to inform lawmakers of newly discovered emails. These officials told him 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.”
CNN: Comey notified Congress of email probe despite DOJ concerns: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates objected to FBI Director James Comey’s decision to notify Congress about his bureau’s review of emails related to Hillary Clinton’s personal server, law enforcement officials familiar with the discussion said. Comey decided to disregard their objections and sent the letter Friday anyway, shaking the presidential race 11 days before the election and nearly four months after the FBI chief said he wouldn’t recommend criminal charges over the Democratic nominee’s use of the server.
New York Times: Justice Dept. Strongly Discouraged Comey on Move in Clinton Email Case: “Mr. Comey’s letter opened him up to criticism not only from Democrats but also from current and former officials at the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, including Republicans. ‘There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election,’ said George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general under the first President George Bush. ‘Those guidelines exist for a reason. Sometimes that makes for hard decisions. But bypassing them has consequences.’”
Politico: Comey’s disclosure shocks former prosecutors: “James Comey’s surprise announcement that investigators are examining new evidence in the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server put the FBI director back under a harsh spotlight, reigniting criticism of his unusual decision to discuss the high-profile case in front of the media and two congressional committees.”
Los Angeles Times: “The emails were not to or from Clinton, and contained information that appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered, the official said, but in an abundance of caution, they felt they needed to further scrutinize them.
Washington Post Editorial: The damage Comey’s bad timing could do: “Mr. Podesta said he is ‘confident’ full disclosure ‘will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.’ If so, the question will be how badly damaged was Ms. Clinton’s candidacy by the 11th-hour re-eruption of a controversy that never should have generated so much suspicion or accusation in the first place.”
New York Times Editorial: “But Mr. Comey’s failure to provide any specifics about a new, potentially important development, less than two weeks before Election Day, is confounding. As Mr. Comey put it in July: “The American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest.” They deserve details even more urgently today.”
Bloomberg: FBI Shocker on Clinton Fuels Criticism of Comey’s Tactics: “FBI Director James Comey is facing extraordinary pressure to explain himself after dropping a bombshell on the campaign of Hillary Clinton just 11 days before the presidential election… Former prosecutors and lawmakers from both parties expressed shock and dismay at Comey’s highly unusual decision, which flouted decades of legal custom that call for avoiding taking actions that could affect the outcome of an election.”
Washington Post: FBI Director James B. Comey under fire for his controversial decision on the Clinton email inquiry: “Nick Ackerman, a former federal prosecutor in New York and an assistant special Watergate prosecutor, said Comey ‘had no business writing to Congress about supposed new emails that neither he nor anyone in the FBI has ever reviewed.’”
Huffington Post: News Outlets Dial Back Reports Of FBI ‘Reopening’ Clinton Email Case: “The story took several other turns on Friday afternoon that complicated the early, screaming headlines, and then ensured the story would remain a topic of discussion in the days ahead. Multiple outlets subsequently reported that the new emails weren’t sent by Clinton and didn’t come from her private server.”
CNN Legal Analyst, Paul Callan: Time for FBI director Comey to go: “Comey’s public announcement in July that the FBI had concluded its investigation regarding Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server in the conduct of official State Department business and would not recommend the lodging of criminal charges was historically unprecedented in a high-profile political case.”
Washington Post Op-Ed by Former DOJ Spokesman Matt Miller: James Comey fails to follow Justice Department rules yet again: “With each step, Comey moved further away from department guidelines and precedents, culminating in Friday’s letter to Congress. This letter not only violated Justice rules on commenting on ongoing investigations but also flew in the face of years of precedent about how to handle sensitive cases as Election Day nears…. The director of the FBI has great power at his disposal…. With that independence comes a responsibility to adhere to the rules that protect the rights of those whom the FBI investigates. Comey has failed that standard repeatedly in his handling of the Clinton investigation.”
New York Times: F.B.I. Chief James Comey Is in Political Crossfire Again Over Emails: “The reaction was swift and damning, with Mrs. Clinton’s supporters and even some Republicans blasting Mr. Comey. Indeed, Mr. Comey, who was attacked this summer by Democrats and Republicans for both his decision not to bring charges against Mrs. Clinton and for the way he handled it, found himself in an even stronger crossfire on Friday.”
Los Angeles Times’ Michael McGough: FBI director should have known what his Clinton emails letter would unleash: “Having raised new doubts about Clinton so close to an election, Comey has an obligation —a moral obligation if not a legal one — to do everything he can to expedite the “additional work” required to determine whether this new information does, in fact, cast doubt on his earlier conclusion that Clinton wasn’t criminally culpable.”
Aurora Sentinel Editorial: FBI’s Comey needs to come clean on details, motivation — or resign: “If there’s damning or critical information about Clinton staff handling of email that creates the clear and immediate threat to national security that would warrant such a ploy, Americans deserve to have Clinton explain them, and Clinton must get that opportunity. Otherwise, Comey needs to apologize for his infelicity and possibly politically motivated stunt, and immediately step aside.”
Newsweek: Hillary Clinton’s Emails: The Real Reason The FBI Is Reviewing More Of Them: “Unfortunately, by trying to have things both ways – revealing the change in circumstances while remaining vague about what the agents know – Comey has created that misleading impression that could change the outcome of a presidential election, an act that, if uncorrected, will undoubtedly go down as one of the darkest moments in the bureau’s history.”
New Yorker: James Comey Broke With Loretta Lynch And Justice Department Tradition: “Coming less than two weeks before the Presidential election, Comey’s decision to make public new evidence that may raise additional legal questions about Clinton was contrary to the views of the Attorney General, according to a well-informed Administration official. Lynch expressed her preference that Comey follow the department’s longstanding practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations, and not taking any action that could influence the outcome of an election, but he said that he felt compelled to do otherwise.”
Charlotte Observer Editorial: Comey drops Hillary Clinton email bombshell; so tell us more: “But it is extraordinary for such volatile information to emerge so close to Election Day and that’s especially true given how few specifics are known. Because Comey was so vague, voters can’t know what to think. The new emails could be anything from meaningless to evidence of criminal activity by Clinton to most anything in between.”
ThinkProgress: The ‘new’ Clinton emails might all be duplicates: “So, to be clear, the FBI Director delivered a gut punch to the Clinton campaign, despite the fact that 1) he doesn’t know what he has; 2) it may be something that he already had; and, 3) whatever it is that he has, it reportedly didn’t come from Secretary Clinton, and was not sent to her.”
Huffington Post: Heat Rises For FBI Director James Comey As Both Campaigns Demand Email Answers: “Both camps demanded that FBI Director James Comey disclose more details about the emails and the bureau’s investigation, which he made known in a letter to Congress just 11 days before the election…. Many challenged the FBI director’s motives, increasing the pressure on him to comply with calls from both campaigns for more information.”
Once Again, “Bombshell” Clinton Revelation Fizzles As Facts Come Out
Yesterday, Republican Congressional leaders leaked an unprecedented letter from FBI Director James Comey, with initial reports including dire headlines for Hillary Clinton. But like most “bombshell” discoveries about Clinton over the course of this campaign, it fizzled rapidly as facts actually became available. Let’s review…
YESTERDAY’S BOMBSHELL: NBC News: FBI re-opening investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server
- Jason Chaffetz: “FBI Dir just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.’ Case reopened”
- GOP: “BREAKING NEWS: The FBI is re-opening their investigation into @HillaryClinton’s secret server.”
- Investigation not reopened. Huffington Post: News Outlets Dial Back Reports Of FBI ‘Reopening’ Hillary Clinton Email Case
- No emails had been withheld. NBC News: “the e-mails Comey announced today were NOT originally withheld by Clinton or campaign.”
- Emils not from Clinton’s server. Bloomberg: New Clinton E-mails Not From Her Private Server, AP Says
- Emails reportedly not to or from Clinton. Los Angeles Times: “The emails were not to or from Clinton”
- No indication emails bear significance. Comey memo to employees: “we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails”
- Many emails likely duplicates of ones already turned over. ThinkProgress: The ‘new’ Clinton emails might all be duplicates
- Comey letter violates DOJ policy. Washington Post: Justice officials warned FBI that Comey’s decision to update Congress was not consistent with department policy
- Comey overruled AG Loretta Lynch. CNN: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates disagreed with FBI Director James Comey’s decision to notify Congress about his bureau’s review…”
- Former officials on both sides of aisle criticized Comey. New York Times: “Mr. Comey’s letter opened him up to criticism not only from Democrats but also from current and former officials at the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, including Republicans.”
- Clinton and Trump both calling for more information. Huffington Post: “Both camps demanded that FBI Director James Comey disclose more details about the emails and the bureau’s investigation”
This is hardly the first time. It seems the script is always the same:
- Bombshell allegation is made hastily without facts available
- Media breathlessly covers the latest supposed Clinton Scandal
- Republicans declare that this time they’ve found the smoking gun
- Initial explosive reports slowly fizzle on account of facts
Here are just five of the many recent examples:
BOMBSHELL: @GOP, 8/30/16: “BREAKING: State Dept discovered 30 emails recovered from Hillary Clinton’s private server that discussed Benghazi.”
…facts emerge: Los Angeles Times, 9/7/16: “There appears to be only one new communication related to Benghazi… a complimentary note from a diplomat to Clinton, praising how she handled herself before a Senate panel investigating the matter.”
BOMBSHELL: @GOP, 5/5/16: “Hacker ‘Guccifer’ told news outlets that he repeatedly accessed Clinton’s unsecure email server & that ‘it was easy’”
…facts emerge: FOX News, 7/7/16: Comey: Hacker ‘Guccifer’ Lied About Accessing Clinton’s Emails
BOMBSHELL: @AP, 8/23/16: “BREAKING: AP analysis: More than half those who met Clinton as Cabinet secretary gave money to Clinton Foundation.”
…facts emerge: Vox, 8/24/16: “Except it turns out not to be true. The nut fact that the AP uses to lead its coverage is wrong, and Braun and Sullivan’s reporting reveals absolutely no unethical conduct…. the AP excluded from the denominator all employees of any government, whether US or foreign.”
BOMBSHELL: Washington Post, 8/22/16: The FBI found 15,000 emails Hillary Clinton didn’t turn over. Uh oh.
…facts emerge: CNN, 10/7/16: “Okay, so what’s in this latest batch? Short answer: No bombshells. More than half of the emails are these so-called “near duplicates” of previously released emails… There are also a number of emails between Clinton and her close aides in which they discuss scheduling matters — timing for phone calls, meetings, etc…. None of the new emails contained information marked as classified or upgraded to classified.”
BOMBSHELL: The Hill, 7/5/16: FBI director: Clinton emails were marked as classified at the time
…facts emerge: MediaIte, 7/7/16: FBI Director Admits Hillary Clinton Emails Were Not Properly Marked Classified
Scroll down for updates.
On Friday, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to a Congressional Judiciary Committee explaining that the FBI had decided to reopen the case investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State. The three page letter did not go into much detail which lead the Clinton campaign to respond. Campaign Chair John Podesta released a statement calling on Comey and the FBI to release more information surrounding their reasoning considering the election is less than two weeks away. The statement from Podesta is below.
“Upon completing this investigation more than three months ago, FBI Director Comey declared no reasonable prosecutor would move forward with a case like this and added that it was not even a close call. In the months since, Donald Trump and his Republican allies have been baselessly second-guessing the FBI and, in both public and private, browbeating the career officials there to revisit their conclusion in a desperate attempt to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
FBI Director Comey should immediately provide the American public more information than is contained in the letter he sent to eight Republican committee chairmen. Already, we have seen characterizations that the FBI is ‘reopening’ an investigation but Comey’s words do not match that characterization. Director Comey’s letter refers to emails that have come to light in an unrelated case, but we have no idea what those emails are and the Director himself notes they may not even be significant.
It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election.
The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.”
The FBI did elaborate later in the day saying that additional evidence related to the Clinton investigation was discovered on a laptop seized during the investigation of Rep. Anthony Weiner. FBI officials said that the bureau will investigate the newly discovered emails on the laptop and that it is possible that the emails could be duplicates of ones previously turned over by the Clinton camp. State Department officials said they have not been made aware of the FBI’s new evidence. More details are likely to be released in the coming weeks, but the news of a reopened investigation could affect Clinton at the polls.
Read the letter from Comey to Congress below (download the letter HERE).
UPDATE (10/28): Following an event in Des Moines, Iowa, Hillary Clinton spoke at a press event and addressed the issues of the FBI reopening its investigation. Clinton said that the FBI needs to release additional details regarding its investigation with the election being less than two weeks away. “Voting is underway, so the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately,” she said. She said that she was confident that nothing new would be found and that she did not know what new evidence the FBI might be referring to adding, “Right now, your guess is as good as mine, and I don’t think that’s good enough.” A video of Clinton’s statement is below.
UPDATE (10/29): The Washington Post obtained a copy of an internal memo sent by FBI director James Comey to FBI employees. In the letter, he briefly explains his reasoning for taking the early details of an investigation to Congress. Read the letter below:
This morning I sent a letter to Congress in connection with the Secretary Clinton email investigation. Yesterday, the investigative team briefed me on their recommendation with respect to seeking access to emails that have recently been found in an unrelated case. Because those emails appear to be pertinent to our investigation, I agreed that we should take appropriate steps to obtain and review them.
Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.
UPDATE (10/30): The FBI announced that it obtained a warrant to search the emails found on a laptop belonging to former Congressman Anthony Weiner. While it is unclear how many emails on the laptop, if any, are relevant to the Hillary Clinton email investigation, an official revealed that there are over 650,000 emails on the computer. It is likely that the majority belong to the former Congressman, but his wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin, also used the laptop. FBI officials also revealed today that several lower level investigators knew the emails existed weeks ago, but only recently brought them to the attend of Director James Comey. It is also unclear why a warrant was received after Comey briefed Congress of the investigation on Friday.
Hillary for America campaign chair John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook have been on the defensive since the revelations were announced. The campaign released a video about the facts of the case and calling for more details to be released considering the timing. The video released by The Briefing is below.
UPDATE (10/31): Former Attorney General Eric Holder wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post in which he called FBI director James Comey “a good man,” but said that he made a mistake by telling Congress about evidence that may have nothing to do with the Hillary Clinton email case. In the editorial, Holder says, “The department has a practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations. Indeed, except in exceptional circumstances, the department will not even acknowledge the existence of an investigation. The department also has a policy of not taking unnecessary action close in time to Election Day that might influence an election’s outcome. These rules have been followed during Republican and Democratic administrations. They aren’t designed to help any particular individual or to serve any political interest. Instead, they are intended to ensure that every investigation proceeds fairly and judiciously; to maintain the public trust in the department’s ability to do its job free of political influence; and to prevent investigations from unfairly or unintentionally casting public suspicion on public officials who have done nothing wrong.” Read the full editorial HERE.