In a tweet today, Trump claims, “Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over...and so much more. A rigged system!”
Trump is not alone in making this claim.
Other publications, particularly conservative ones are writing that the former FBI Director, fired by President Trump and who is at the center of the alleged obstruction of justice claim against Trump, are presenting their own take on the issue.
One media operation, AP has published its own account, claiming “not so fast”
According to the AP, “
But the reality is more complicated, and the Republican committee chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, released only portions of the transcript in support of his assertion that the investigation had been closed prematurely.
In one excerpt, Comey’s chief of staff, Jim Rybicki, told investigators that the FBI director in the spring of 2016 had “emailed a couple folks” with a draft statement he could make about the case. At that point, Rybicki said, Comey knew “the direction the investigation is headed” and proposed a statement he would make at the conclusion of the case.
Drafts of the statement began circulating began well before certain key witnesses were interviewed, including Clinton herself. Clinton was interviewed at FBI headquarters on July 2. The investigation was closed three days later.
Also, the AP article makes these points:
But Trump’s tweet overlooks the fact that the FBI never actually closed out the investigation until all of the witnesses were interviewed, which means Comey and his agents could have changed their assessment at any time, if Clinton or anyone else said something incriminating or that invited further scrutiny. The investigation had also been open for about nine months by the time Comey, who had been receiving frequent briefings on it, had begun proposing a statement to wrap it up.
It’s also rather simplistic to say that Comey “exonerated” Clinton. Though he declined to recommend criminal charges, he delivered a public rebuke of her during an unusual news conference in which he chastised her and her aides as “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information.
And Comey did effectively reopen the investigation months later, when the FBI discovered an additional batch of emails tied to the case on a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, whose wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, has filed for divorce. The public revelation of the emails, coming days before the Nov. 8 election, led to bipartisan criticism that the FBI was inappropriately commenting on an open investigation.
Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see where this new allegation takes Comey, Clinton and Trump as many observers are taking sides as the above tweet stream shows. It will also be interesting to see where it takes Trump in his efforts to diminish Comey and the investigations into Russian collusion. Prior allegations by Trump have so far been unsupported such as Obama wiretapping him in Trump tower.