President Barack Obama for the first time waded into the choppy waters left by FBI Director James B. Comey’s revelation of new emails connected to the private server Hillary Clinton used while secretary of State. And he appeared to criticize the embattled Comey.
In an interview with NowThisNews taped Tuesday and released Wednesday, Obama suggested that federal law enforcement officials should favor “concrete decisions” over “innuendo.” He also seemed to suggest voters should focus more on the former and ignore the latter.
“I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations we don’t operate on innuendo and we don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks,” said Obama, who has endorsed and will continue campaigning for Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, on Wednesday and until Election Day.
White House officials had largely refrained from commenting about the disclosure, which came just over a week before voters will decide between Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump.
On Monday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to weigh in on Comey’s decision to notify Congress about the renewed look at emails possibly related to the Clinton case. Earnest said he would neither condone nor criticize Comey’s call, but he did call the FBI boss, an Obama appointee, an individual of high character and professionalism.
At a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday, Obama did not mention the email controversy, nor did he address Trump’s characterizations about what it says about his Democratic opponent.
“We operate based on concrete decisions that are made,” he said in the interview after the rally. “When this was investigated thoroughly last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable.”
Clinton has said “there is no case here” concerning the private server, the use of which she now calls a misstep. Trump said this week he is “sure” the contents of the emails the FBI is now reviewing will be “absolutely devastating” to Clinton.
The former first lady and top diplomat appears to lead Trump both nationally and in enough battleground states to secure the presidency on Tuesday — but recent polls show her margins both nationally and in some of those key states shrinking.