Democrats seized Monday on multiple anonymously-sourced reports saying that FBI Director James Comey did not want the agency to confirm publicly that Russia was involved in hacking Democratic organizations and operatives.
Their suggestion was that Comey applied a different standard to the agency’s investigation into Russian hacking and its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, which was renewed Friday when the FBI director informed Congress new emails that might be pertinent to that probe were uncovered in a separate case involving Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin.
CNBC first reported and then The Huffington Post confirmed, citing different anonymous sources, that Comey had been privately hesitant to confirm the U.S. believed Russia was meddling in the election because he thought it could have an effect on the election results. An FBI spokesperson declined to comment to CNBC on Comey’s part in the decision to not publicly comment on the hacks.
House Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Sunday sent a letter to Comey implying the FBI director had hesitated to share information that could expose ties between Donald Trump and Russia. He accused Comey of violating that Hatch Act by making the information about the newly discovered Clinton-related emails public just 11 days before the election.
Democrats lasered in on the apparent contradiction between Comey hesitating to release information that could affect Trump’s chances, as he’s been accused of having a cozy relationship with Russia, while going forward with disclosing that additional emails related to Clinton’s private email server case had been found:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 31, 2016
Harry 👏 Reid 👏 Was 👏 Right 👏 https://t.co/JAytUMiKKI
— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) October 31, 2016
Never underestimate Harry Reid.
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) October 31, 2016
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) October 31, 2016
As The Huffington Post’s report pointed out, Comey had testified before Congress in defense of not charging Clinton with any crime for her use of a private server. The new emails were potentially related to that case, which he promised to keep Congress updated on, but he did not have a similar responsibility in relation to the Russian hacks.