FBI director James Comey faced a dilemma last week when deputies briefed him about the discovery of a trove of emails that might be linked to the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s private email server that was closed months ago, the New York Times reports. Comey could immediately inform Congress about the emails, which were found in an investigation into former Rep. Anthony Weiner. That would risk accusations that he was unfairly harming her presidential campaign less than two weeks before the election. Or he could delay an announcement and examine the emails more closely, risking criticism that he had suppressed important new information if it came out after the election, despite his pledges of “transparency” in the investigation.
Comey, a Republican appointed by President Obama, decided that he could live with criticism of his judgment, so on Friday, the bureau’s congressional liaison emailed a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of eight congressional committees, ensuring that it would be quickly publicized. Officials at the main Justice Department were upset about Comey’s decision to go to Congress with the new information before it had been adequately investigated. “The FBI has a history of extreme caution near Election Day so as not to influence the results,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), adding that the “break from that tradition is appalling.” Republican candidate Donald Trump had a different reaction, telling a campaign rally, “Perhaps, finally, justice will be done.”