FBI Director James Comey was trying to defend his agency against potential accusations of favoritism when he went forward with a letter to Congress last November informing members of the House and Senate that the FBI was investigating new evidence regarding Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State.
The New York Times reported Saturday evening that Comey — a former prosecutor — was attempting to shield the FBI against accusations that it withheld the information until after the election to assure a Clinton win.
“Mr. Comey’s plan was to tell Congress that the F.B.I. had received new evidence and was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton, the presidential front-runner,” wrote the Times’ Matt Apuzzo, Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Goldman and Eric Lichtblau. “The move would violate the policies of an agency that does not reveal its investigations or do anything that may influence an election. But Mr. Comey had declared the case closed, and he believed he was obligated to tell Congress that had changed.”
Believing that Clinton’s win was a near-certainty, Comey believed he was doing the right thing to keep his agency from being accused of partisan politicking. It turned out, in fact, to do the opposite, plunging the FBI into “the molten center of a bitter election,” the Times said.
“What he did not say was that the F.B.I. was also investigating the campaign of Donald J. Trump,” the Times continued. “Just weeks before, Mr. Comey had declined to answer a question from Congress about whether there was such an investigation. Only in March, long after the election, did Mr. Comey confirm that there was one.”
Comey prided himself on keeping the agency above the hurly-burly of partisan politics, but “in the final months of the presidential campaign, the leader of the nation’s pre-eminent law enforcement agency shaped the contours, if not the outcome, of the presidential race by his handling of the Clinton and Trump-related investigations.”
The Times article lays out a detailed timeline about how Comey’s decision-making process unfolded and what consequences it had on the outcome of the 2016 election.