WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama faulted the FBI on Wednesday over its handling of the investigation into whether newfound emails are related to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private server, condemning the bureau for falling short of standards.
“There is a norm that when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo and we don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks,” he said in an interview with NowThis. “We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”
The remarks were Obama’s first public reaction to FBI Director James Comey’s decision last week to make the review public just days before the election.
He did not mention Comey by name and cautioned that he wasn’t trying to interfere with the investigation. Nonetheless, his comments were an extraordinary departure for a president who has withheld his fire on the FBI’s actions in a variety of cases, citing a longstanding precedent of presidents trying not to influence federal investigations.
Clinton’s campaign, most Democrats and even some Republicans excoriated Comey for reinjecting the emails into the forefront of the presidential race. More than three months earlier, Comey had said his agents had completed their investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified information and concluded that they did not have enough evidence to recommend charges.
“When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable,” Obama said.