Former FBI Director James Comey began drafting a letter exonerating Hillary Clinton from any wrongdoing related to the email scandal long before the FBI investigation was over, according to a letter released by a top GOP senator.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), in a letter dated August 30, requested more information from the FBI on Comey’s actions, as part of an investigation into his firing by President Trump in June.
But the letter revealed that the committee had received interviews of Comey’s staff that showed he began drafting the letter in late April or early May — before Clinton was scheduled to be interviewed on June 2, in addition to more than a dozen other key witnesses.
According to an interview with one of his staff, Comey had emailed a small group of FBI leadership about drafting the letter. According to the interview, Comey, “knowing the direction where the investigation is headed,” asked “what would be the most forward-leaning thing we could do” in terms of “information we could put out about it.”
“It appears that in April or early May of 2016, Mr. Comey had already decided he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton,” the letter said.
“That was long before FBI agents finished their work. Mr. Comey even circulated an early draft statement to select members of senior FBI leadership,” it said. “The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts.”
“As of early May 2016, the FBI had not yet interviewed Secretary Clinton. Moreover, it had yet to finish interviewing sixteen other key witnesses, including Cheryl Mills, Bryan Pagliano, Heather Samuelson, Justin Cooper, and John Bentel,” it said.
The letter blasted Comey for the premature drafting of the letter before the investigation concluded.
“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,” said the letter, signed by Grassley and Graham.
Comey did make a public statement later, exonerating Clinton.
The letter also revealed that although Comey had said in his public statement that Clinton did not show any criminal intent or obstruction of justice, that the FBI accepted an immunity deal with several key witnesses that may have showed obstruction of justice, such as in the deletion of emails.
The letter requests more information by Sept. 13, 2017.