With the US presidential election just days away, FBI Director James Comey could be about to find himself in a spot of bother.
The bombshell he dropped about the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email servers has led to official complaints and attacks from across the whole political spectrum.
Over the last two days there has been a storm of criticism with claims that Comey has been trying to influence the election, has breached protocols and may even have broken federal law by informing Congress of the new investigation before the election has taken place.
Is there any basis to these claims or is Comey just doing his job?
Comey “may have broken the law,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has said, referring to the Hatch Act, which covers federal officials appointed by the president and crimes of abuse of power and the manipulation of elections.
Meanwhile, a former ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, Richard Painter, has filed an official complaint, according to his op-ed in the New York Times.
While the Office of Special Counsel, the independent federal agency responsible for looking into Hatch Act violations, has not confirmed or denied any investigation, the heated reactions Comey has received thus far might make him feel like he is on trial.
Even Comey’s former colleague and former US attorney general Eric Holder said Comey “unintentionally and negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI,” in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
Calling the whole ordeal “a sideshow,” Katrina Van den Heuvel, editor and part-owner of The Nation magazine, doubts Comey’s vague Friday announcement that more Clinton emails had been discovered, spurring a renewed investigation into her handling of classified materials, will throw the election one way or another
“This is gonna be a sideshow that will do more to discredit Comey and the FBI than to impact the election,” Van den Heuvel told RT’s Ed Schultz.
That is well deserved, she said. When asked by Schultz if Comey had any choice, as coming out after the election with the new details of the investigation would look just as suspicious, Van den Heuvel rejected the premise.
“It’s not his job, Ed, to come forward,” she said, insisting that Comey should have only directed his agents to report to the Department of Justice.
Van den Heuvel then restated her previous position, more forcefully suggesting that Comey may have indeed broken the law.
“The FBI, which has a long history of interfering in presidential elections, has done so again,” she said.