by Kristina Vakhman
In the week before the election, an the FBI stated there was no change in verdict regarding Hilary Clinton, FBI director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on Oct. 28 saying that the bureau would be reopening the probe into Clinton’s emails.
Leaked to the public by Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz, the letter explained Comey’s reasons to believe that newly discovered Clinton emails possibly contained pieces of evidence “that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” of an “unrelated case.” The emails were found on a seized laptop belonging to former congressman and top Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner, during an investigation of him sending explicit text messages to a minor. The bureau will be going through more than 650,000 emails in search of related evidence.
This bombshell proclamation came less than two weeks before the presidential election. Though Comey stated that the emails could be benign and that he didn’t want to create “a misleading impression” by announcing the investigation at this time, the letter garnered bipartisan opposition. Over 100 former Justice Department officials openly criticized Comey for the letter’s close proximity to Election Tuesday.
“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,’’ they wrote.
Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice presidential candidate, joined in on the backlash, accusing Comey and the FBI of propagating “a double standard.” He cited the contrast between Comey’s refusal to publicly comment on Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and his eagerness to investigate Clinton’s emails.
“He [Comey] said that the FBI has a long-standing protocol that we will not make statements like this right before an election,” Kaine said, rephrasing Comey’s explanation to his resistance to sign a FBI conclusion on Russia aiding Trump. “Why do these protocols need to get followed with respect to Russia’s involvement in activities to influence the election, but they don’t need to be followed with Hillary Clinton?”
Even Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, one of Comey’s most vocal advocates at the beginning of his term as FBI director, expressed concern, stating that Comey’s decision to reopen the investigation at this time could “damage” the FBI’s credibility “in immeasurable ways.”
The effects of the letter’s publication are indeed proving to be harmful to the FBI’s previously unbiased impression. “The Guardian” recently spoke to several retired and currently serving FBI officials, “none of whom were willing or cleared to speak on the record.” Many bluntly stated that, specifically, Comey’s department is anti-Clinton and heavily supportive of the Republican nominee.
“The FBI is Trumpland,” one current agent told the paper, adding that Clinton is “the antichrist personified to a large swath of FBI personnel” and “the reason why they’re [Clinton’s emails] leaking is they’re [FBI] pro-Trump.”
The FBI’s bias was furthered when one of Trump’s top surrogates, Rudy Giuliani, hinted to “Fox and Friends” about the Republican nominee’s campaign having “a couple of surprises left” that would be “enormously effective” against Clinton. This statement came two days before Comey sent the letter to Congress. This rose suspicion that FBI insiders had leaked the bureau’s plan on Clinton’s emails to the Trump campaign, taking Giuliani’s close ties with the FBI into account. Giuliani later denied the allegations in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
The FBI is currently reviewing the Clinton emails, having now officially obtained a warrant. The investigation will continue for months after the election.