Sen. Reed Confronts Sessions With Flip-Flops On Comey Handling Of Clinton Emails

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was confronted with his flip-flops on then-FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server Tuesday.

During a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) quoted Sessions’ responses to then-FBI Director James Comey’s announcement in July 2016 that he would not recommend charges against Clinton.

Sessions signed onto a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that cited Comey’s handling of the case as unprofessional, and one justification for his firing.

On July 7, Reed said, Sessions said the email investigation dismissal “was not his problem, it’s Hillary Clinton’s problem,” referring to Comey.

In late October, Comey briefly re-opened the investigation before closing it days before Election Day, without changing his conclusion.

Reed said Sessions had said “Comey did the right thing” in November.

“So in July and November, Director Comey was doing exactly the right thing,” Reed told Sessions. “You had no criticism of him. You felt that in fact he was a skilled, professional prosecutor. You felt that his last statement in October was fully justified. So how can you go from those statements to agreeing with Mr. Rosenstein and then asking the President, or recommending, that he be fired?”

“I think in retrospect, as all of us begin to look at that clearly and talk about it as perspectives of the Department of Justice,” Sessions began, “once the director at first got involved and embroiled in a public discussion of this investigation — which would have been better never to have been discussed publicly — and said it was over, then when he found new evidence that came up, I think he probably was required to tell Congress that it wasn’t over, that new evidence had been developed.”

“It probably would have been better and would have been consistent with the rules of the Department of Justice to never have talked about the investigation to begin with,” he continued. “Once you get down that road, that’s the kind of thing you get into that went against classical prosecuting policies that I learned and was taught when I was a United States attorney and assistant United States attorney.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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