ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: In July, FBI Director Comey said Clinton had sent or received 110 emails containing classified information on her private servers and called her conduct careless but not criminal.
For more on the FBI’s extended inquiry into Clinton server emails, I am joined from Washington by one of the reporters following the story, “Politico” investigative reporter Ken Vogel.
So, Ken, “The Washington Post” and “The New York Times” report that senior Justice Department officials told Comey not to do this. “Politico” is reporting that prosecutors, some are “shocked” is the word that’s been used. Can you fill this in for me?
KEN VOGEL, “POLITICO” INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Yes, sure. There’s a feeling Comey kind of painted himself into a corner a little bit by, in July, when he announced that they were not bringing charges, going into great detail about the investigation, about his rationale for not bringing charges. This in many ways flies in the face of typical FBI procedure where you don’t comment on an ongoing investigation — you don’t even acknowledge the existence of an investigation if the existence is independently corroborated, you don’t comment on it.
And, you know, the Clinton folks praised him for coming out and announcing that he wasn’t pressing charges. But in so doing, he basically set stage for this type of scenario where if new information did arise, that he would feel obligated to present it at least to Congress who, of course, quickly turned around and leaked it to the public, with the idea being that if he didn’t do it before the election, he would come under criticism for potentially revealing new information after the election. It was a little bit of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” in this case.
ALISON STEWART: I want to focus on the word “obligation”, because that’s the word that he used in an internal memo to the FBI. He said, “Given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of e-mails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.” He said it was his obligation to tell Congress about these e-mails.
Two questions: one, was it, indeed, an obligation? And, two, didn’t he create a misleading impression?
KEN VOGEL: Well, certainly there was no formal obligation. He did in July, when he was asked about this by Congress, when he testified before Congress he was asked specifically, would he reopen any investigation or look into additional information if it came forward after they decided not to press charges? He said that he would look into it. So, here we are.
As to whether it creates a misleading impression, certainly that’s the argument among the Clinton folks and without knowing really anything about these e-mails.
ALISON STEWART: There’s one prosecutor in New York who described his actions as inappropriate because these are e-mails that haven’t even been reviewed, correct?
KEN VOGEL: Well, certainly, there are people in the FBI New York office who are pursuing the investigation into Anthony Weiner who have looked at these investigations — look at these e-mails, rather, and at least on a cursory basis determined they could be pertinent. They flagged it up the food chain and Director Comey said that he wanted to seek access to these. That means gets a subpoena, because these — this case, this investigation into the Clinton e-mails and the handling of classified information is, of course, unrelated to this investigation into Anthony Weiner.
ALISON STEWART: Let me ask you a little bit about the Clinton campaign’s reactions. Previously, about the e-mails they kind of had a wait and see to see if this smoke came into a full flame. They came right back at this immediately it in a way we hadn’t seen throughout the campaign, really. Why do you think that was?
KEN VOGEL: What my sources around the campaign tell me that they are worried about is give moment to Donald Trump and allow him to lean heavily on his voters to get them out to vote with this idea that the system was rigged or that Hillary Clinton is corrupt, and they’re concerned that this gives him the ammunition to do so without any additional information about what these e-mails say, that they believe will exonerate her and Huma Abedin in this case.
ALISON STEWART: What happens next? Does any of this get resolved before November 8th?
KEN VOGEL: Director Comey has certainly created a situation where he is under pressure now, he has sort of created pressure on himself to release additional information. The Clinton campaign is pressuring him. Republicans are pressuring him.
So, I think we haven’t heard the last from him before the election. But I don’t think he’ll come out with anything approximate anything kind of findings in this investigation.
ALISON STEWART: Ken Vogel from “Politico” — thanks for sharing your reporting.
KEN VOGEL: Pleasure.
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