Former Attorney General Eric Holder and more than 100 other former Justice Department officials signed a letter sent out by the Clinton campaign on Sunday night.
According to TheHill.com, the letter slammed FBI Director James Comey and his decision to alert Congress and the media that there might possibly be some emails “pertinent” to his bureau’s interests on a laptop computer used by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner (D).
“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,” the letter said.
It continued, “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.”
The officials who signed the document offered their respect to Comey for his past work, but said that this latest action has baffled them.
“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,” the letter said.
“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.”
Until Sunday, no one at the FBI had obtained a warrant to read the “new” emails, so, as many have pointed out, Comey had no idea whether or not his investigative team had already seen the emails during another part of the investigation or not, what their content is or even whether they were read or sent by Clinton herself.
“We do not question Director Comey’s motives,” the letter said. “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.”
The group of officials requested the release of any and all “information that provides a full and complete picture regarding the material at issue.”