Cummings On Comey Letter: He Knew GOP Would Go After ‘Any Misstep’

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, said on Monday morning that he wasn’t completely surprised that FBI Director James Comey notified Congress that his agency would look into new emails related to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private server.

During an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” Cummings first said that he was surprised Comey would release a “vague” letter about newly discovered emails so close to the election.

“I was surprised that the director, who has told our committee on several occasions that his number one concern is his reputation, that he would issue a letter that, number one, was so vague. And that, basically, gave Donald Trump a softball to hit over the fence. And he knew, I’m sure, that this is exactly what Donald Trump would do. He would exaggerate,” Cummings said.

But the congressman also said he was not completely shocked by Comey’s letter considering the way Republicans on the Hill reacted to his July decision not to recommend charges against Clinton.

“It doesn’t surprise me, though, in a way that he did this. Because I don’t think the American people have a clue as to how hard the Republicans, particularly on my committee, have been on the FBI,” he said.

Cummings noted that Republicans in Congress loved Comey before he did not recommend charges for Clinton, at which point the House GOP “suddenly turned against him.”

“Now what they’re doing is trying to get every note,” he said of House Republicans. “They’ve gotten the interviews of the FBI, they’ve gotten everything involved in the investigation. And now, as I told director Comey at the time of the hearing back in July, I said to him, ‘Sir, they are now going to investigate you and your agency.’ And that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked Cummings if Comey “caved” to GOP and sent Congress the letter last week for partisan reasons.

“I can’t say that,” Cummings said, adding that he has a lot of respect for Comey.

“But I think what has happened is that he knows that Republicans — if he makes any misstep the Republicans are going to be all over him and they’re going to try to bring harm to him,” he continued. “And he doesn’t want to — I think his position is, ‘Look, they’re looking at everything I do, so I want to make sure that I let them know what’s going on.'”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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