NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams reported on Sunday that Donald Trump’s baseless claim of a “rigged” election influenced FBI Director James Comey to break with the Justice Department’s policy against taking actions that could influence elections.
Although longstanding Department of Justice guidelines have cautioned against disclosing investigative steps within 60 days of an election, Comey recently informed Congress that he had directed the FBI to investigate newly found emails that may or may not be relevant in the probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Williams explained on Sunday that Comey, in part, broke with tradition — just 11 days before the election — because of Trump’s bogus warnings about a “rigged” system.
“They believe that they did the right thing by telling Congress about this development,” Williams said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “And their logic goes something like this, that the fact that the discovery of these emails was going to leak, that if it leaked it would come out in all sorts of different ways and be interpreted in all sorts of different ways and that the best way to handle it was just to get out in front of it.”
“And secondly,” he continued, “they thought that if they waited until after election and then it was discovered that they had found these emails, that would play into this whole scenario about how the system is rigged.”
Williams also pointed out that Comey and the FBI still did not know what was in the emails.
“They don’t know whether they are significant to the question of the email investigation,” he explained.
Watch the video below from NBC, broadcast Oct. 30, 2016.