Democrats turn on FBI director over Clinton probe
Politics | Earlier praise for FBI director James Comey turns into calls for his resignation
by Evan Wilt
Posted 10/31/16, 01:10 pm
WASHINGTON—Congressional Democrats have lost their love for Director James Comey as the FBI’s renewed probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server appears poised to linger long after Election Day.
After a yearlong investigation into Clinton’s email practices as secretary of state, Comey announced in July he would not recommend criminal charges, and Democrats sang the director’s praises for his prudence and integrity. But Friday’s decision to revive the investigation upon finding new evidence brought out bitter responses from Democrats—even calls for Comey to give up his job.
“He should resign his position effective immediately,” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said. “While I cannot know Director Comey’s reasoning for his recent letter to House members notifying them about the FBI’s review of emails that he deemed ‘potentially related’ to Hillary Clinton’s personal server, it was plainly premature, careless, and unprecedented in its potential impact upon a presidential election without a speck of information regarding the emails in question, their validity, substance, or relevance.”
Cohen added there’s a reason FBI investigations aren’t usually public until fully completed, and Comey’s commenting on the investigation gives a premature impression of guilt.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had a similar message for the FBI director in a personal letter over the weekend and even claimed Comey broke the law.
“Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another,” Reid wrote. “My office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election. Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.”
Some of Clinton’s harshest critics laughed at the response from Democrats.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chaired the House Select Committee on Benghazi, told Fox News Reid must have been under the influence of drugs to issue such a brazen letter.
On Friday, Comey wrote to eight Congressional chairmen and their Democratic counterparts that the FBI would reopen the Clinton investigation upon finding more emails “potentially related” to the case. FBI officials were sifting through a laptop in a separate investigation of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who is married to one of Clinton’s top aides, Huma Abedin. Abedin was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department and currently serves as vice chairwoman of Clinton’s presidential campaign. She separated from Weiner in August amid a scandal over his infidelity, which later grew to include accusations he exchanged illicit texts with a 15-year-old girl.
Over the weekend, the FBI obtained a search warrant to comb through the emails in Weiner’s laptop. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday investigators found up to 650,000 emails on the laptop, and thousands of those messages could be to or from Clinton’s private server.
Comey said in his letter Friday he did not know how long it would take the FBI to sift through the new information. The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed officials who said it could take weeks to comb through the new messages and determine which ones might be duplicates of previous evidence and which ones, if any, contain classified information.
Pollsters scrambled over the weekend to gauge what impact the renewed investigation would have on the presidential election next week.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll administered Saturday and Sunday suggested few voters would change their minds in light of the news. It showed Clinton still has a 3-point lead over Republican nominee Donald Trump. Thirty-nine percent of the 1,772 likely voters polled online said the reopening Clinton’s investigation had no effect on their vote. Thirty-three percent indicated it made them less likely to vote for the Democratic nominee, but those respondents previously indicated they disfavored Clinton.
And a Washington Post/ABC poll found similar results: Trump gained 1 percent overall from the announcement. About two-thirds said the news did not sway them one way or another, and 34 percent said it made them less likely to cast a vote for Clinton.
Evan is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Washington, D.C.