‘When there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo. We don’t operate on incomplete information. We don’t operate on leaks,’ the president said.
President Barack Obama is questioning the wisdom of FBI Director James Comey’s vague announcement that the agency is reviewing new evidence in its probe into Hillary Clinton’s email practices, saying investigations shouldn’t “operate on innuendo.”
In an interview with NowThis released Wednesday morning, Obama did not call out Comey by name but vented his frustration that the FBI director dropped a bombshell 11 days before the presidential election, a move that has produced a flurry of anonymously sourced stories about how potentially damaging the new evidence might be.
“Setting aside the particulars of this case,” Obama said of Clinton, “I know that she is somebody who has always looked out for the interest of America and the American people first. And I do think that there is a norm that, you know, when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo. We don’t operate on incomplete information. We don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”
Obama said he “made a very deliberate effort to make sure that I don’t look like I’m meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments.” Even so, the president seemingly rebuked the FBI chief’s decision to release the cryptic, cursory letter so close to Election Day.
He also said there’s no fire to all the smoke. In July, after its yearlong investigation, Obama continued, “the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that, you know, she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was, you know, prosecutable.”
Congressional investigations, however, did not come to such a firm conclusion, and some are ongoing.
The president’s assessment was backed up by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said Comey had “made a mistake” by going public with the bureau’s investigation of additional evidence relating to the private email server Clinton operated as secretary of state. That Comey felt compelled to disclose the FBI’s additional review but has been tight-lipped on the existence of any other election-related investigation shows that he is operating under a double standard, Pelosi said.
“I am an admirer of Comey in terms of what he has done in the past. I think he made a mistake on this, and he clearly has a double standard when it comes to Donald Trump,” Pelosi said in an interview Wednesday on CNN. “When it came to the hacking by the Russians, that the highest confidence of our intelligence community says the Russians did this, I know it privately, because of being hacked by the Russians, and he says, ‘Well, it’’s too close to the election to talk about that.’ And yet it’s not too close to the election to talk about the emails that he says may not be significant.”