Comey began drafting Clinton statement months in advance

FBI Director James Comey apparently began drafting his statement about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server months before his July 2016 announcement that the FBI would not recommend charges, according to a document posted by the FBI Monday.

The only visible content in the posted document is an unclassified email from FBI official James Rybicki, who asks officials in mid-May to “please send any comments on this statement so we may roll it into a master doc for discussion with the Director at a future date.”

{mosads}Rybicki’s email forwarded a redacted email from the FBI chief on May 16, 2016 with the subject line “Midyear Exam.” The Comey email he forwarded was dated May 2, 2016.

Newsweek first highlighted the document’s release on Monday.

Comey, however, would not publicly make his recommendation to not press charges against Clinton until July 2016. In his public statement, though, he also sharply criticized the then-Democratic presidential candidate and her colleagues for being “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

The latest document will likely spark questions about why Comey waited months after beginning to draft a statement to announce the end of the investigation during a heated presidential race.

President Trump fired Comey earlier this year, citing his handling of the Clinton probe. But special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump fired Comey to obstruct justice in the Russia probes, which the then-FBI chief was in charge of.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) first announced in late August that Comey had drafted a statement on Clinton months before making a public statement, citing FBI aides the panel interviewed.

The Republican senators said Comey had written the draft statement months before the “Clinton email investigation before the FBI had interviewed key witnesses.”

Tags Chuck Grassley Hillary Clinton Lindsey Graham
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