James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton before probe was completed: Senators

September 1, 2017 10:30 pm

Former FBI Director leaves a closed session with the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on June 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

Two Republican senators have claimed that former FBI Director James Comey had exonerated Hillary Clinton from criminal charges regarding her personal emails long before the investigations were completed.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs a key Judiciary subcommittee, said on Thursday that Comey had drafted a statement clearing the former secretary of state of charges against her private email account two months or more before his agency interviewed the then-Democratic presidential candidate last year.
The senators said they had obtained the information through the transcripts of interviews with Comey’s former aides and the Office of Special Counsel, a government watchdog agency that probes into cases of violating federal laws against government employees engaging in political activity while on duty.
In a letter sent to new FBI Director Christopher Wray, the lawmakers argued that Comey wrote the statement in July 2016 and announced that no charges would be brought against Clinton while the FBI had still been investigating her use of the private email server.
“These individuals had intimate and personal knowledge relating to Secretary Clinton’s non-government server, including helping her build and administer the device,” Grassley and Graham wrote in the letter.
“Conclusion first, fact-gathering second — that’s no way to run an investigation. The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy,” they noted.
The Office of Special Counsel has so far declined to comment on the claims or to discuss the agency’s inquiry into Comey’s conduct.

Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination to be the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Capitol Hill on July 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

In a tweet on Friday morning, US President Donald Trump commented on the senators’ statement, saying, “Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over…and so much more. A rigged system!”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that if the GOP senator’s claims are true, they support Trump’s decision to dismiss Comey.
“If it is as accurate as they say it is, that would certainly give cause and reason that Jim Comey was not the right person to lead the FBI,” she said.
Before the election, the dismissed director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation led a controversial probe into Clinton’s use of a personal server to exchange thousands of government emails while she was secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.
After the election, he began investigating President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia as well as a series of cyber attacks against Clinton’s campaign, which Democrats claimed were conducted by Russian hackers.
Trump fired Comey as he was busy heading an investigation into the Republican president’s ties with the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign and transition. Comey later testified that he believed Trump had fired him because he was unhappy with the Russian probe.
Moscow has denied any interference in the election, while Trump has shrugged off intelligence reports that the alleged meddling gave his campaign a boost.
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