According to a report in the New Yorker, Attorney General Loretta Lynch advised FBI Director James Comey hold off on sending a letter to Congress informing them of the discovery of new emails related to the investigation Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s email server.
Friday, Comey sent the letter vaguely describing emails discovered a computer shared by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner in an unrelated investigation into the ex_congressman’s texting scandal involving an underaged teen in North Carolina.
Alerted to the letter, Lynch urged Comey to not release the information asserting the Justice Department’s practice of not taking actions that could influence the outcome of an election.
According to Jane Mayer at the New Yorker, Justice officials and higher-ups at the FBI were angered by the revelation, saying it makes the FBI look as if it is meddling in a election less than two weeks before voters got the polls.
“You don’t do this,” one former senior Justice Department official told Mayer. “It’s aberrational. It violates decades of practice.”
According to the former official, who asked not to be identified, “It impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there’s no finding by a court, or in this instance even an indictment.”
Republicans, including GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump were quick to jump on the letter as evidence of criminality.
In a memo explaining his decision to FBI employees, Comey wrote he felt he had no choice.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”