Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta wrote a scathing op-ed in the Washington Post Thursday calling for the FBI and its director James Comey to be held responsible for what he characterized as a mishandling of evidence that Russian-backed hackers sought to influence the election.
“The more we learn about the Russian plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and elect Donald Trump, and the failure of the FBI to adequately respond, the more shocking it gets,” Podesta began, before quoting Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA who called the hacks “the political equivalent of 9/11.”
Podesta, whose emails were stolen during the campaign and posted online by Wikileaks and other websites, referenced a New York Times investigation published this week that found that FBI agents didn’t notify the Democratic National Committee in person that their emails had been hacked until months after the fact. Instead, agents spoke over the phone to a low-level staffer at the DNC IT desk who at first thought the call may have been coming from a prankster, according to the Times report.
Recent reports, notably one in the Washington Post, claim that unnamed CIA intelligence officials told lawmakers they believed the hacks were meant to benefit Donald Trump’s campaign.
“Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI,” Podesta wrote.
Podesta’s largest bone to pick is with Director Comey, who made the decision to announce a development in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server just 11 days before Election Day. Comey, Podesta pointed out, refused to sign the FBI on to a 17-agency letter pinning responsibility for the email hacks on Russia in October, according to a Washington Post report.
“The election is over and the damage is done, but the threat from Russia and other potential aggressors remains urgent and demands a serious and sustained response,” Podesta wrote.
Podesta went on to argue that information related to the Russian hacking of his email account should be declassified; that members of the electoral college should be briefed on what remains classified; that a independent investigation “modeled on the 9/11 Commission” should be established; and that a determination should be made why the FBI didn’t respond to the hacks of his own emails with as much force as they responded to Hillary Clinton’s private server.
“If ever there were a case of ‘intense public interest,’ this is it. What’s broken in the FBI must be fixed and quickly,” the op-ed concluded.