There’s been lots of chatter from both sides over the political spectrum about the actions of FBI Director James Comey in regards to Hillary Clinton’s email investigation. When he had his press conference on July 5, 2016 announcing that there would be no prosecution, people on the right went crazy. When he sent a letter to Congress last week, the left turned their anger up to 11.
I’ve watched this entire ordeal unfold with a bit of confusion. If there was not going to be a prosecution, why would he need to have a press conference to announce that when that’s not the job of the FBI to do. It’s usually the responsibility of the Attorney General or another member of the Dept. of Justice responsible for prosecuting crimes that holds those press conferences. I’ve seen far too many to count, and I don’t recall any members of the FBI doing the speaking. It’s usually the AUSA or some other lawyer.
Likewise, the letter sent to Congress was pretty much a note of hot air. If you don’t know what you have, how do you determine whether to notify Congress or not? Seems like there would need to be knowledge of what was contained in those emails to justify notifying Congress that you may have to continue the investigation.
I won’t try to ascribe political motivation to Comey’s actions, but I think he royally screwed the pooch on this one. He’s either whipped up a fury right before the election over nothing, or he knows what is in those emails and had knowledge of that prior to getting a search warrant to see what’s inside. The former action would seem like a violation of the Hatch Act, while the latter would possibly make any evidence obtained worthless in a court of law. There’s also the memo that’s been passed down within the Dept. of Justice from the past few Attorney Generals that state they will not announce investigations of political figures less than 60 days before an election or something to that effect.
Maybe Comey felt that he was acting within the scope of his authority and felt he had no other choice. I honestly don’t know. I can say that, if it was my decision to make, I would not have sent that letter without concrete evidence that the found emails were indeed connected to the Clinton investigation. That’s what makes me think the FBI knows what is contained within those emails. If they’ve already read through them without a warrant, then they are inadmissible in any court proceeding as well as any information found from the information contained within those emails. If the contents of the emails are indeed unknown, then there’s no point in notifying Congress about investigations because it’s not known whether the investigation will be impacted.
Either way, Comey messed up in my view, and what has already been an election for the history books just added another chapter. As far as him being charged for violating the Hatch Act, I think that is a bit of a stretch at this point because there is no information to show motivation. Now, if you wanna charge someone with violating the Hatch Act if it were indeed possible, I would submit Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) as the prime violator. However, members of Congress cannot be charged under the Hatch Act as it only applies to employees under the Executive Branch. I find it interesting that employees under the Legislative and Judicial branches are not covered, but that’s another topic for another post.