By Veronica Mackey
After his bombshell announcement to reopen the Hillary Clinton email investigation last week, FBI Director James Comey has gone silent—leaving the media and political pundits to ponder what the vaguely written letter released 11 days before the presidential election could possibly mean.
We only know that there may be new evidence in the case, but so far nothing has been found. The letter was Comey’s heads up to Republican Congressional leaders that a laptop was found which contains emails to the former Secretary of State.
FBI agents seized the laptop owned by former Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) in a separate investigation which involved him allegedly sexting an under-aged girl. That same computer was shared by his estranged wife Huma Abedin, who is the right hand person to Clinton. Investigators want to know if the email messages by Abedin are duplicates of prior emails found or if they contain any new—possibly incriminating—evidence against the Democratic presidential nominee.
To have Comey comment on an ongoing investigation this close to Election Day, and go against the advice of his boss Attorney General Loretta Lynch has opened the door to all kinds of negative speculation. It upends Justice Department policy and has given Donald Trump fresh new fodder fueling his rhetoric to “lock her up.”
It also creates a perception of Clinton’s guilt without any proof, as the letter was released even before a warrant was issued to search the laptop. Is Comey trying to do the very thing Trump is accusing the left and the media of doing? Is he trying to rig things in Trump’s favor?
Comey told Congress that he was a Republican when he testified in September—two months after exonerating Clinton of criminal intent in sending classified emails through her private servers. This helped prove to some extent that he could remain fair and impartial to the Democratic candidate.
Comey took a lot of heat from Republicans who wanted Clinton indicted. He has promised to
turn over the FBI’s investigative materials to Congress, despite Congress’ having no oversight role in individual criminal investigations. Is this his way of trying to make amends?
Is the announcement that there could be new evidence in the case a way to appease fellow Republicans or is he just being extra cautious? Is he trying to protect his position at the Bureau or help Trump win—or both?
Marty Kaplan, professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, said,
“My guess is that Comey knew leaks were coming from some Clinton antagonists in the Bureau who were pissed at his decision not to prosecute, and whose revenge might be his post-election impeachment on trumped-up charges …Maybe Comey jumped the shark because, trapped between his inexplicable commitment to Republican committee chairmen and his own rebellious agents, he felt, well, helpless.”
Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said Comey caved when the GOP came after him for not recommending charges against Clinton. He added that there is a double standard when it comes to possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russian leaders seeking to get him elected.
“I listened to the interview with Jason Miller about information out there about Mr. Trump, Mr. Manafort and the Russian government. Members of Congress, including myself, have asked for months for the FBI to provide us with information as to whether Mr. Trump, other associates and the Russian government have any coordination or connection with each other. Not one ounce of information has been given to Congress on it,” Cummings told CNN on Monday.
With less than a week before the election, America is on the brink of a political cliffhanger. Polls show the Clinton-Trump race has tightened. According to Politico, “Clinton lost just one point in between the four days immediately preceding Comey’s letter and the following four-day period, while Trump gained a point.”
However, Clinton and Trump are deadlocked at 46% each in the first ABC News/Washington Post daily tracking poll conducted entirely after the letter was released.