Fresh accusations that former FBI director James Comey began writing an “exoneration statement” for Hillary Clinton a long time before interviewing her and other key witnesses have ruined the credibility of his Senate testimony about why he chose to go public with what he found in the email case last summer.
In a June hearing in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey was question about whether his decision to announce the outcome of the investigation was influenced by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s devious meeting days before on an Arizona tarmac with the former President Bill Clinton.
“Yes, in an ultimately conclusive way, that was the thing that capped it for me – that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation,” Comey informed Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C.
Yet an August 30th letter from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said that interview transcripts demonstrate that Comey was drafting what the senators called an “exoneration statement” for Clinton several weeks earlier.
President Trump, in a tweet on Friday, seized on the allegations to say the process was “rigged.”
Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s legal team and the chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, thought Comey’s June testimony could contradict these new details.
It is a possibility that Comey drafted a statement that was meant for public release at a future time, but didn’t decide to give an on-camera statement until the tarmac meeting.
In his July 2016 announcement, Comey called Clinton’s email procedures “extremely careless” though he chose not to recommend criminal charges.
The new claims have, at least, revived interest among Clinton’s critics in looking back at certain aspects of the case.
In July, nearly two-dozen House Judiciary Committee Republicans asked the Trump Justice Department to name a new special counsel – alongside the Robert Mueller team investigating allegations of Russia-Trump team collusion – to look into 2016 controversies involving Clinton and the Obama administration. This included some aspects of the FBI and DOJ’s email investigation.
A House Judiciary Committee aide informed Fox News on Friday that the panel will be following up with the Justice Department, “and we expect the request for a second special counsel to be renewed.”
When asked about the request, a Justice Department official stated Friday, “We have received the letter.”
Earlier this week, the FBI refused to turn over files related to its Clinton email investigation by claiming there was a lack of public concern about the issue. The argument was written in a Freedom of Information Act records request.