Republicans’ newest charge against James Comey is a cheap stunt

Grassley and Graham’s letter centers on partial transcripts of interviews the Office of Special Counsel conducted with FBI officials last fall. These officials said that Comey began to work on a statement exonerating Clinton as early as April 2016, before Clinton herself and some key aides were interviewed. “Conclusion first, fact-gathering second — that’s no way to run an investigation,” charge the two Republicans. (Let’s pause for a moment on the irony of two members of the “Lock Her Up” party accusing someone else of jumping to conclusions.)

But it’s far from unusual for prosecutors and investigators to draft statements about their conclusions before the investigation is over so that the case can proceed efficiently. If Comey and his team had taken weeks after interviews were finished to draft and announce his decision, Republicans would have claimed he was trying to slow-walk the case. That Comey was already at work on a statement is not evidence of impropriety. As Washington veterans (and in Graham’s case, a former lawyer), the senators likely know this.