Hillary Clinton
Credit: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr

FBI Director James Comey just angered everyone in the country by sending a letter to key Republican committee members in Congress:

1) eleven days before Election Day
2) that implies that Hillary Clinton may have committed a criminal act
3) that doesn’t provide any details
4) that makes no commitment to shed any further light on the issue before the voting is over

For Democrats, they wonder why Comey would impugn Clinton’s character while voting is already going on when he can’t even say with certainty that the information is pertinent to the investigation of Clinton’s emails or whether it involves any classified information.

For Republicans, they wonder why the FBI cannot commit to giving the American people more clarity before the election is over. If the information is indeed damning then isn’t it a little late to find that out after Clinton has already become president-elect?

I obviously have no special insight into what spurred Comey to write to Congress. He says that the FBI discovered emails during an unrelated investigation (of what? Russian hacking?). Presumably these are undisclosed emails of some sort?

To step back just a bit, it’s the FBI Director’s duty to inform Congress if he thinks his testimony to them was inaccurate. It’s probably not his duty to keep them updated on an ongoing investigation or to revise testimony that was accurate when he provided it. But, from his perspective, if this information has the potential to come out after the election and the Republicans find out that the FBI knew about it and didn’t say anything, that has the potential to damage both Comey and the Bureau’s reputation. The actual letter reads like a typical CYA (cover your ass) memo.

But, if the letter inoculates Comey and the FBI against post-election criticism, it opens them up to near-universal condemnation now.

It’s true that Trump and his supporters are acting happy right now because they needed some hope, but they should actually be pissed off. And this will occur to them shortly.

As for Clinton and her supporters, they have no real way to fight back against a letter that doesn’t even quite amount to an allegation.

They’ll need to find something in the bag of opposition research to dump on Trump. I’m sure they have a few goodies ready for just such a contingency.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com