The FBI is in a political hole and can’t seem to stop digging. Hillary Clinton’s supporters were already fuming after FBI Director James Comey revived the specter of her email scandal in the tense final days of the presidential election, a move that played right into Donald Trump’s hands.
But their frustrations and suspicions intensified Tuesday when the FBI suddenly released redacted files about its 2001 probe into President Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. In an election hinging on voter perceptions of character and trustworthiness, the move revived memories of yet another political fracas surrounding the Clinton family.
That leaves the FBI in an unprecedented position: very publicly at the center of a presidential race one week out from the election. The apolitical agency’s actions over the past four days are leaving the FBI exposed to arguments from Democrats — and some Republicans — that it is improperly intervening in the fight between Clinton and Trump.
And it ensures that Comey, who was once a registered Republican and contributed to GOP nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney, will remain in the spotlight for the remainder of the campaign.
“It’s another very puzzling development. We are in the final stages of an important presidential campaign,” Hakeem Jeffries, a Democratic congressman from New York who supports Clinton, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” “Because of the FBI’s actions, we are talking about emails, Anthony Weiner and a 15-year-old pardon.”
He continued: “That doesn’t make any sense and it undermines the integrity of the democratic process. The FBI and the director owe the American people an explanation as to what is going on.”