The White House says an accusation that James Comey wanted the announce the end of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton months before she sat down for an interview is further proof that the president was right to can him.
‘I’m not sure if he is aware of that revelation, but if it is accurate as they say it is, it would certainly give cause and reason that Jim Comey was not the right person to lead the FBI,’ White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during her daily briefing.
Two Republican senators have written the FBI to ask why James Comey attempted to draft a statement on the outcome of the case in April or May, even though Clinton had not yet spoken to investigators.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and a judiciary subcommittee chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham, sent a letter to the FBI on the matter yesterday that they subsequently made public.
The White House says a report that James Comey wanted the announce the end of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton months before she sat down for an interview is further proof that the president was right to can him
The lawmakers say they have copies of transcripts that were procured in the process of a probe into Comey that refer to his desire to draft a statement exonerating Clinton months before her July 2 interview with the FBI.
They’re asking the FBI’s current head, Christopher Wray, to turn over all documents to the Judiciary Committee pertaining to the discussion between Comey and his employees.
Grassley and Graham say they learned of the conversations through an Office of Special Counsel (OSC) review of Comey that had been requested by Democrats.
Furious lawmakers from Clinton’s political party accused Comey of violating the Hatch Act when he announced that the bureau was reopening its investigation into Clinton days before the presidential election.
Clinton and other Democrats have blamed Comey’s October surprise for the former secretary of state’s surprise loss to Donald Trump.
OSC ended its investigation into Comey when Trump fired him this spring – but not before it began conducting interviews with the former FBI chief’s underlings.
The investigative agency spoke to James Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff, and Trisha Anderson, the principal deputy general counsel of National Security and Cyberlaw, before it terminated its probe. OSC turned over highly redacted copies of its interviews with Rybicki and Anderson to Grassley and Graham at their request, the senators said.
The transcripts revealed Comey’s interest in drafting a statement on the outcome of the case before the FBI had spoken to Clinton or what the senators described as 17 key witnesses.
‘Conclusion first, fact-gathering second—that’s no way to run an investigation. The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy,’ the senators said in their letter.
Comey ultimately let Clinton off the hook, despite a charge that she mishandled classified information. He reopened her case in October after previously unrecovered emails were discovered on aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband’s computer.
Days later Comey called off the dogs once more, but the damage to Clinton’s reputation had already been done.
‘I’m not sure if he is aware of that revelation, but if it is accurate as they say it is, it would certainly give cause and reason that Jim Comey was not the right person to lead the FBI,’ White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during her daily briefing
Graham and Grassley received copies of OSC’s interviews with Rybicki and Anderson on August 8, the letter to Wray they put out today said, and they have been trying to find out since why they the transcripts were so heavily blacked out.
The unredacted portions led them to Comey’s suggestion in April or May to select members of FBI leadership that they begin preparing a statement on Clinton.
A transcript from what they surmise is Rybicki’s interview says that ‘sometime in the spring,’ perhaps, ‘early spring I would say,’ Comey emailed a subset of FBI officials ‘to say, you know, again knowing sort of where – knowing the direction the investigation is headed, right, what would be the most forward-leaning thing we could do, right, information that we could put out about.
‘And — and, you know, by that — you know, so that — and he sent a draft around of, you know what – what it might look like. . . .’ the subject says.
Later, the person said, ‘I definitely remember spring. I had in my head like the April timeframe, but May doesn’t seem out of the — out of the realm.’
The person confirmed in the interview that Clinton had not yet been interviewed with Comey proposed the draft statement.
A second person, believed to be Anderson, gave investigators a similar timeline.
‘The idea, I’m not entirely sure exactly when the idea of the public statement um first emerged. Um it was, I just, I can’t put a precise timeframe on it um but [redaction]. And then I believe it was in early May of 2016 that the Director himself wrote a draft of that statement …’
Two Republican senators have written the FBI to ask why James Comey attempted to draft a statement on the outcome of the case in April or May, even though Clinton had not yet spoken to investigators. They are Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, left, and a judiciary subcommittee chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham
The subject claimed to have received a hard copy of the draft statement that Comey initially put together.
‘There were many iterations, at some point there were many iterations of the draft that circulated,’ the person said.
Graham and Grassley included those portions of the transcripts in their letter to Wray.
‘It is unclear whether the FBI agents actually investigating the case were aware that Mr. Comey had already decided on the investigation’s outcome while their work was ongoing,’ they said. ‘However, it appears that the answer to that question may be underneath some of the extensive redactions that the Department made to the transcripts.’
The senators are trying to get their hands on the drafts of the statement that were discussed in the transcript now.
‘Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Transparency is essential to restoring the public’s trust in the FBI,’ the letter ends.