I normally agree with Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald's writings, but not this time. Regarding the FBI Director Comey's letter to congress, Eichenwald wrote:
His decision to immediately reveal this discovery was not a partisan act, although it was a horribly mishandled one. Arguably, he had to issue his letter because of previous statements he had made to Congress. In September, he testified that the bureau had completed its review of the evidence in the case and found no crimes had been committed. With the discovery of the information on the laptop shared by Weiner and Abedin, that sworn statement was no longer true, and there was new evidence that needed to be examined. As a result, Comey felt he was obligated to inform the committees as quickly as possible that his previous statement was now incorrect.
Comey may have felt compelled to issue a letter to Congress, but there was no urgency in doing so. The FBI knew in April that Abedin had copies of previously released Clinton emails on her personal devices and in the email account she shared with her husband.
The Abedin FOIA Lawsuit Deposition and FBI Notes
In a June FOIA lawsuit deposition Abedin stated she would send emails from her State email address to her personal email accounts, including one she shared with her husband, in order to print the emails from home.
Abedin also told this exact same information to the FBI when they interviewed her in April of 2016. In the released FBI notes, Abedin said she would frequently forward emails to her Yahoo account, her personal Clinton email account, and the account she shared with her husband related to his campaign activities when she wanted to print the emails, because the State system was too difficult to use.
The FBI Already Had Access to Devices and Accounts
The FBI was thorough in its original Clinton email investigation. This included investigating the computers of several people who worked with Clinton and may have received emails from Clinton. Two were granted immunity in order for the FBI to access their computers.
During the FBI interview, the agent showed several emails that Abedin forwarded to her personal accounts that were later retroactively classified. To access these emails the agents must have had access to either her email accounts or her devices, or both. Since we can establish, because of the grants of immunity, that the FBI investigated devices directly, it is unfathomable that the agents would investigate the computers of some of the people who worked at State, but not the computer and other devices of her closest aide.
The information about State emails in Abedin accounts and devices recently discovered during the Weiner investigation was information the FBI already knew.
All of this puts Comey's letter to Congress in a different perspective.
About the Urgency of that Letter
There was no urgency related to Comey releasing the letter to Congress now, or even in the future. The information that Abedin had forwarded State emails to personal devices, including computers, was already known. It was known by Congress, by the press, and by the people. We know this because of FBI notes, and we know this because of the FOIA lawsuit deposition.
If information was leaked that State emails were discovered on an Abedin computer because of the Anthony Weiner investigation and Congress demanded an explanation, it would have been a simple matter for Director Comey to point out that such information was already available...in the FOIA deposition, in the FBI notes, and in several online and print publications.
An Indefensible Action
Those who would defend Comey point out that he was justified in sending the letter to Congress. After all, he had testified in front of Congress that the investigation was thorough and complete. When new information is discovered, of course, he must report it.
Make no mistake, though, this information wasn't new. The information may have been new to the team investigating Anthony Weiner, but it wasn't new to the team that had investigated Clinton's emails. And that includes Comey, himself.
There is no justifiable reason for Comey to send the letter to Congress. There is no defensible reason for him to go against Justice Department protocol, disregard the express wish of the Attorney General of the US and her deputy, and possibly adversely impact the election of President of the United States.
All that's left are reasons that cannot be justified or defended: either he released the letter specifically to impact the election or he did so not caring whether he impacted the election or not—the latter because of some perception on his part that he owes more fealty to House Republicans than to following the well-established and justified Department of Justice rules about not interfering in any election.
In a New Yorker article on this incident:
According to the Administration official, Lynch asked Comey to follow Justice Department policies, but he said that he was obliged to break with them because he had promised to inform members of Congress if there were further developments in the case. He also felt that the impending election created a compelling need to inform the public, despite the tradition of acting with added discretion around elections. The Administration official said that Lynch and Justice Department officials are studying the situation, which he called unprecedented.
Matthew Miller, a Democrat who served as the public-affairs director at the Justice Department under Holder, recalled that in one case, the department waited until after an election to send out subpoenas. “They didn’t want to influence the election—even though the subpoenas weren’t public,” he said. “People may think that the public needs to have this information before voting, but the thing is the public doesn’t really get the information. What it gets is an impression that may be false, because they have no way to evaluate it. The public always assumes when it hears that the F.B.I. is investigating that there must be something amiss. But there may be nothing here at all. That’s why you don’t do this.”
“Comey is an outstanding law-enforcement officer,” Miller said, “but he mistakenly thinks that the rules don’t apply to him. But there are a host of reasons for these rules.”
A Profound Betrayal
Director Comey's actions are a profound betrayal of that most fundamental American event, the election of a US President. Eichenwald said Comey wasn't partisan in his actions, but the words in Comey's second letter, to FBI employees, belie that defense.
This morning I sent a letter to Congress in connection with the Secretary Clinton email investigation. Yesterday, the investigative team briefed me on their recommendation with respect to seeking access to emails that have recently been found in an unrelated case. Because those emails appear to be pertinent to our investigation, I agreed that we should take appropriate steps to obtain and review them.
Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.
Comey is not a stupid man. He was fully aware of the impact of his actions.
FBI Director Comey must resign or be fired.