The FBI released a document which confirms that former FBI Director James Comey drafted a statement about the conclusion of the Hillary Clinton email investigation months before her interview, Newsweek reports.
Comey emailed Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, general counsel James Baker, and chief of staff and senior counselor James Rybicki on May 2, 2016, and the subject, according to the records, was “mid-year exam”. Even though the email says that the contents are unclassified, the body is redacted in the release.
FBI released the response which Rybicki sent on May 16 last year to Peter Strzok, Jonathan Moffa, Baker, Trisha Anderson and E.W. Priestap.
“Please send me any comments on this statement so we may roll into a maser doc for discussion with the Director at a future date. Thanks, Jim,” he wrote in the email marked as unclassified.
The title of FBI’s release is “Drafts of Director Comey’s July 5, 2016 Statement Regarding Email Server Investigation” and it is referring to Comey’s press conference in which he said that FBI finished the investigation related to Clinton and the emails.
The Bureau’s release confirmed what Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham wrote in a letter to new FBI Director, Christopher Wray in August when they said that they had learned from interview transcripts that Comey had drafted the statement in advance. The transcripts were released by the Office of the Special Counsel.
The analysts have different opinions about the issue and whether former FBI director violated rules by drafting the statement before interviewing Clinton and witnesses.
“I think the content of the statement is going to be important. Did it purport to essentially acquit her actions way prematurely, or was it simply a running statement of what they knew,” said Ron Hosko, who served as an assistant director at the bureau until 2014.
He added that drafting statements is not unusual if they stay internal and avoid coming to conclusions. This was another inspiration for President Donald Trump.
“Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over…and so much more. A rigged system!” he wrote on Twitter.
Comey’s conduct as director and Trump firing him are being reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The newest disclosure can be used by Trump’s lawyers to defend him against accusations that he obstructed justice when he fired Comey.