Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid suggested Sunday that the FBI director may have violated federal law when he announced his agency was looking into new emails related to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
FBI Director James B. Comey informed lawmakers Friday that the agency was reviewing new emails that could pertain to a previous investigation into Clinton’s use of the server while she was secretary of State. That investigation showed that Clinton was careless with classified information, according to Comey, but her actions were not criminal.
But the timing of the new announcement — less than two weeks before the presidential election — had Reid crying foul.
“Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another,” Reid wrote in a scathing Sunday letter to Comey.
“I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election,” Reid wrote. “Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.”
Reid accused Comey of a “clear double standard” in how the FBI was treating the presidential candidates. Reid said the agency has been reluctant to disclose “explosive information” about “GOP nominee Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.”
“In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity,” Reid wrote.
“The public has a right to know this information.” Reid added.
Reid said the agency, on the other hand, has been quick to disclose information about the Clinton investigation.
“By contrast, as soon as you came into possession of the slightest innuendo related to Secretary Clinton, you rushed to publicize it in the most negative light possible,” Reid said.
Reid concluded by reminding the FBI director that he helped overcome a filibuster of Comey’s nomination to lead the agency. Comey was confirmed in July 2013 in a 93-1 vote, becoming the first new FBI director since the 9/11 terror attacks.
“With the deepest regret, I now see that I was wrong,” Reid said.
Comey said he did not know whether the new emails were significant, or how long it would take to complete the review.
Following Comey’s announcement, Clinton called on the FBI to release details of its investigation. Top Senate Democrats also called on the agency to release details of its new inquiry.