President Trump on Friday tweeted that former FBI Director James Comey “exonerated” Hillary Clinton before the bureau’s investigation of her private email server ended.
Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over...and so much more. A rigged system!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2017
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Thursday said Comey drafted a statement exonerating Clinton before the FBI’s probe concluded. Comey prepared the draft before conducting interviews with top Clinton aides who had been offered immunity for their cooperation.
Grassley and Graham cited transcripts of interviews with former Comey aides obtained by the Senate Judiciary Committee when announcing the development.
“Conclusion first, fact-gathering second – that’s no way to run an investigation,” they said in a joint statement.
“The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a manner of such great public interest and controversy,” the pair added in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray seeking more information.
Some Twitter users on Friday praised Trump for criticizing Comey over his handling of the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s email server.
Other people on the social media platform criticized Trump’s treatment of Comey, whom he fired in May.
CNN reported that Graham and Grassley requested that Wray provide all drafts of Comey’s final statement on Clinton by September 13.
The interviews of Comey’s former aides were conducted as part of a personnel investigation into him by the Office of Special Counsel. An unidentified FBI agent says in one exchange from the redacted transcripts that Comey first wrote a draft of his announcement exonerating Clinton in May 2016. “There were many iterations, at some point, there were many iterations of the draft that circulated,” the aide said.
Clinton was investigated for running government emails through a private email server during her tenure as secretary of State.
Comey ultimately announced in July 2016 that he would not recommend charges against Clinton, but he also sharply criticized her decision-making relating to the device.
Controversy over Clinton’s emails dogged her as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and she eventually lost the White House to Trump last November.
Trump sacked Comey earlier this year, meanwhile, with the White House initially citing his handling of the Clinton probe as justification for his decision. Comey’s ouster sparked controversy, however, as it came during the FBI’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 race.
The probe was examining potential collusion between Russia and Trump’s election campaign before Comey’s firing.