Three days ago it was reported that the FBI declined to release the files on the Clinton email investigation on the basis that there wasn’t a sufficient amount of public interest to override the former presidential candidate’s privacy rights. The FBI declined to release the files in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by attorney Ty Clevenger that sought any pertinent files relating to a request lodged by former House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz.
This begs the question: Considering the obviously high level of public interest in the Clinton email investigation, why was the FBI avoiding the release of a file if they had no reason to hide?
Thanks to Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC)., we found out at least part of the reason today.
According to the two senators, former FBI Director James Comey had already prepared a statement in order to announce a decision to exonerate Hillary Clinton before the interviews of key witnesses in the investigation, including the former secretary of state herself. This information was gleaned from transcripts of interviews conducted by the Office of Special Counsel with people who were close to Comey, including his chief of staff James Rybecki. The interviews were a part of a probe into Comey’s potential violations of the Hatch Act stemming from when Comey announced Clinton’s exoneration on July 5, 2016.
One of the interviewees, who remains unnamed, stated the following during their interview:
“The idea, I’m not entirely sure exactly when the idea of the public statement um first emerged. Um it was, I just, I can’t put a precise time frame on it um but [redaction]. And then I believe it was in early May of 2016 that the director himself wrote a draft of that statement …”
Of course, July 2nd was the date of the FBI’s interview with Hillary Clinton, bringing questions about Comey’s draft statement. Grassley and Graham asked current FBI Director Christopher Wray for all communications regarding the exoneration statement as well as any and all drafts.
It was only a few days ago when I questioned what the FBI was trying to hide by not releasing the file. It’s become quite apparent that at least part of it has to do with James Comey. As if the investigation were not compromised enough with Loretta Lynch’s unethical behavior on multiple fronts, now it appears that the FBI had already reached a decision without even investigating what they were paid to investigate.
It’s time to release the files. The public interest is more than enough.