Is the FBI “sprinting” to wrap up its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email arrangement before she becomes the party’s nominee this summer? Within the last 24 hours there have been two, seemingly opposite, reports regarding that question.
Monday afternoon the Hill reported that the FBI was close to wrapping things up with an eye on not becoming mired in the presidential election:
The FBI appears to be entering the home stretch of its investigation into Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Yet even as arrangements are reportedly being made to interview Clinton and her top aides, much remains unclear…
Reports indicate that the bureau is sprinting to complete its work so it won’t be seen as meddling in the presidential election.
But a little later last night WIVB in Buffalo, NY reported that FBI Director Comey was asked about the email investigation and said he was in no particular hurry to get it done prior to the Democratic convention this summer:
News 4 asked whether Comey or his agents feel any pressure to finish the email probe before the party’s convention this summer.
“No, and the only reason I hesitate is in any investigation of intense public interest, whether it involves a public figure. Involves some horrific crime. San Bernardino is a great example. We feel a great sense of urgency to do it well and to do it promptly,” Comey explained. “I wouldn’t say the concerns are any different in any of the high profile cases. And the reason is good people want to know. There’s intense interest in investigations like that. Like a San Bernardino.”
Comey says the FBI will always do investigations well, and do them promptly.
“But if we have to choose between the two, well, obviously comes first.”
These two reports seem to be at odds with one another. Comey says he’s not under pressure but the Hill says the FBI is “sprinting” to get this done to avoid being caught up in politics. In addition, we’ve seen other reports, including from the NY Times, saying the case could wrap up in early May. That fits with the idea that the FBI would hand this off to DOJ well in advance of the Democratic convention in July.
As for Comey’s remarks, he was asked if he felt pressure to complete the investigation and he answered with a flat no. That sounds like a politic answer. Let’s face it, it would be big news if he said the opposite, i.e. he was feeling intense pressure to wrap this up. Pressure from whom? How is this pressure being applied? Will it impact the outcome? Etc…
Any suggestion that the FBI is feeling rushed could be taken as an excuse why the eventual result didn’t go the way one side or the other wanted it to go. So, if the FBI does not call for an indictment, Hillary’s critics could say the FBI was rushed and couldn’t do the job properly. If they do recommend an indictment, Clinton’s supporters could claim the FBI was under pressure and couldn’t reach a level-headed conclusion. Either way, the only safe answer here is that the FBI is feeling no pressure at all except to get this right.
Director Comey is famous for his willingness to ignore political calculations, but in this case stating that he feels no particular pressure seems like the only answer he could give without creating a fresh firestorm of controversy.