WASHINGTON — Facing another day of ferocious attacks by the Clinton campaign, FBI Director James Comey indicated that he may have nothing more to say before Election Day on his agency’s renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton-related emails.
The FBI head briefed the top Republican and Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee Saturday and was pressed to clarify a number of questions, including whether the bureau is certain the newly-discovered emails contained classified information. To most of the questions, “he did not give us any response in terms of what more he could say,” Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who chairs the committee, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Further detail was purportedly offered in anonymous and often contradictory leaks regarding the new batch of emails found on a computer belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Friday, Comey told Congress in a brief letter that the FBI would examine the newly discovered emails.
Goodlatte said Comey told him agents “don’t know” if there is any classified information in the emails.
The one thing most Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on is that both sides want more information. Comey in his letter to Congress, said the emails, which agents stumbled upon during an investigation into sexting by Weiner, “appear to be pertinent” to its investigation.
Critics seized on that language after leaks suggested that the emails had yet to be examined by agents and that they in fact may need a court order to look at them. It’s also unclear how many emails were found and whether they were sent to or from the private e-mail server Clinton used while secretary of state, which was the investigation’s initial focus.
“This investigation has been bungled from the start,” Ronald Johnson, R-Wis, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on the Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, on “This Week,” offered blistering criticism of Comey after spending several weeks defending his judgment and the decision to close the email case in July.
“You can’t break both of these protocols and then leave it just kind of up in the air with a question mark,” Kaine said, referring to guidance Justice Department officials gave Comey before sending the letter.
Several media outlets reported that the FBI director was told that it would violate two long-standing protocols not to discuss ongoing investigations and not to take major investigative steps that could be perceived as interfering in politics.
Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007, wrote in the New York Times on Sunday that he had filed a complaint against the FBI for a possible violation of the Hatch Act, which bars the use of an official position to influence an election.