The FBI had already launched a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of email during the 2016 campaign when her campaign called for journalists to correct an article reporting that the bureau was considering such a probe, former FBI Director James Comey reveals in his forthcoming book, The Hill reported.
An article, published in July 2015 by The New York Times, reported that two inspectors general had made a criminal referral to the Justice Department that an investigation be opened into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.
But Clinton’s campaign said that the Times inaccurately implied that the matter might be “criminal” and that the FBI was considering investigating Clinton personally. The Times corrected its story at the time, but on Friday noted that Comey’s account of the events appears to prove the paper’s reporting correct.
Comey, however, points out in his upcoming book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, that the FBI was already conducting a criminal investigation into Clinton’s actions at the time the correction was issued.
“Though The Times may have thought those clarifications were necessary, their original story was much closer to the mark,” Comey wrote, according to the Times. “It was true that the transmission to the FBI from the inspector general did not use the word ‘criminal,’ but by the time of the news story, we had a full criminal investigation open, focused on the secretary’s conduct.”
Comey also wrote that the FBI did not seek to correct the record at the time because investigators did not yet believe it was appropriate to publicly announce the probe. The former FBI director announced in July 2016 that the email investigation had been closed and recommended against criminal charges for Clinton.
Comey then announced just days before the election that the FBI had reopened its investigation into Clinton’s emails after additional records had been recovered, The Hill adds.
Clinton and her allies have, at times, blamed Comey for swaying the election in President Trump’s favor by publicly criticizing Clinton’s actions as well as the timing of his announcements. In his book, Comey acknowledges that he could have done a better job explaining his decision to make the announcement about reopening the investigation.