But He Would Go Out of His Way to Comment on Hillary Clinton
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FBI Director James Comey told Senators Tuesday afternoon that the FBI does not comment on whether or not they are investigating someone, a stunning exercise in hypocrisy given his letter, eleven days before the election, to 16 federal lawmakers and a follow-up, two days before the election, derailed Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Noting that the Russian Foreign Minister was quoted in the press saying he had had contact with people associated with the Trump campaign before the election, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden asked the FBI Director, "Has the FBI investigated these reported relationships, if so, what are the agency's findings?" Wyden asked.
Director Comey's immediate response, "I would never comment on investigations, whether we have one or not, in an open forum like this."
“So I really can’t answer it one way or another,” he concluded.
FBI Director James Comey declines to comment on whether Bureau has investigated reports of interactions between Russia, Trump campaign. pic.twitter.com/ypscJYgEWl— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 10, 2017
In October, Comey told lawmakers, via a letter that was published almost immediately upon receipt, that he felt "an obligation" to announce the existence of emails just before the election, despite having not even read them prior.
Sen. Wyden went on to ask Director Comey if he would publish an unclassified response before Inauguration Day.
“I think the American people have a right to know this,” Wyden said, according to Politico. “And if there is a delay in declassifying this information and releasing it to the American people, and it doesn’t happen before January 20th, I’m not sure it’s going to happen.”
His response: "I can't talk about" any possible investigation into Trump's operations.
Mother Jones called it the "most dramatic exchange" of the day, adding that Sen. Wyden "noted that several media outlets have reported that Trump campaign associates, including Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, had maintained connections with Russians tied to Putin."
Sen. Angus King (I-ME) continued the questioning:
"Did you answer Sen. Wyden that there is an investigation underway as to connections between either political campaign and the Russians?" King asked.
"I didn't say one way or another. That was my intention at least," Comey said.
"You didn't say one way or another even as to whether there's an investigation underway?" King asked.
"Correct. Especially in a public forum, we don't confirm or deny a pending investigations," Comey said.
"The irony of your making that statement here I cannot avoid, but I'll move on," King said.
Some responses via Twitter:
We must demand to know the ties between Trump and Putin before Jan.20. FBI is sitting on info. We need to know if PEOTUS is a traitor!!!— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) January 10, 2017
Is the FBI investigation ties between Trump campaign and Russia? Sure sounded like it from Senate testimony today.— John Aravosis (@aravosis) January 10, 2017
Comey undermined a presidential election, but now won't comment on an ongoing investigation? https://t.co/qXBqXGGz7A— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) January 10, 2017
Comey: "I would never comment on investigations...in an open forum."(except in public letters just before election) https://t.co/6zSqVjeLND— Chris Edelson (@ChrisEdelson) January 10, 2017
Believe it or not, Director Comey said he could "not comment publicly on the possibility of open investigations." https://t.co/e7mt8017Eh— Enrique Acevedo (@Enrique_Acevedo) January 10, 2017
"We are investigating Hillary Clinton." - Comey, October 28, 2016— Gord Macey (@GordMacey) January 10, 2017
"We don't comment on ongoing investigations." Comey, January 10, 2017