Then-FBI Director James Comey acted on information that he knew was fabricated by Russian intelligence out of concern that a leak of the info could damage the credibility of the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, CNN reported Friday.
The Russian intelligence material related to a purported email exchange between then-Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a Clinton campaign operative who suggested then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch would help quash the FBI’s investigation.
According to CNN, Comey used the purported emails in part to justify his decision to publicly announce that no charges would be brought against Clinton, in a remarkable address that also accused her of being “extremely careless” in how she handled classified information on her private server. Comey did not consult with Lynch beforehand, and the speech broke FBI protocol to never comment on closed cases where no charges are brought.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the purported emails originated from a dubiously sourced Russian intelligence document, the veracity of which was never confirmed by the FBI. Officials aware of Comey’s actions told CNN that he knew that the document was bogus, but still factored it into his handling of the case.
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe went as far as to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday to inform lawmakers that the FBI had not been duped by dodgy Russian intelligence, according to CNN.
The report noted Comey himself brought up those emails months ago in closed-door briefings with Congress and expressed fear that, if made public, they could undermine the public’s faith in the outcome of the investigation and the independence of the DOJ. But he did not tell lawmakers that the veracity of the information was in question at that time, per CNN.