FBI Director Comey defends releasing Clinton email report before holiday weekend

By Bonnie K. Goodman

FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2016. Comey is testifying on his July 5 recommendation that no charges be brought over US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state, saying the investigation does not support a criminal prosecution. / AFP / YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2016.
Comey is testifying on his July 5 recommendation that no charges be brought over US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, saying the investigation does not support a criminal prosecution. / AFP / YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)

FBI Director James Comey has to explain his decision to release the FBI report on former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server on the Friday afternoon, before the long Labor Day weekend. On Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, Comey issued a memo to FBI employees defending his decision to release the documents, which also included notes on Clinton’s interview, and not to recommend charges for the former Secretary of State. Comey is being criticized for releasing the information on a long weekend, where the story could be buried while everyone is vacationing giving Clinton a political advantage on a damaging story.

In the memo, Comey explained why he could recommend charges, “At the end of the day, the case itself was not a cliff-hanger; despite all the chest-beating by people no longer in government, there really wasn’t a prosecutable case.”

Comey also explained the timing of the release, saying, “I almost ordered the material held until Tuesday because I knew we would take all kinds of grief for releasing it before a holiday weekend, but my judgment was that we had promised transparency and it would be game-playing to withhold it from the public just to avoid folks saying stuff about us.”

Using the FBI no-nonsense excuse, Comey said, “We don’t play games. So we released it Friday. We are continuing to process more material and will release batches of documents as they are ready, no matter the day of the week.” The FBI director also said that there no political motivation for the timing of the release, “Those suggesting that we are ‘political’ or part of some ‘fix’ either don’t know us, or they are full of baloney (and maybe some of both).”

Director Comey is coming under fire for possible political motivations for the timing of the documents release, especially from Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan has been especially critical, saying in a radio interview, “It’s like the most buried time you could ever put out a story. I’m surprised. I can’t believe that they would do what is such a patently political move. It makes them look like political operators versus law enforcement officers.”

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