Democrats and Republicans have issued rare echoes of each other in calling on FBI Director James Comey to quickly release as much information as possible related to his bombshell Friday letter that the bureau had obtained further information related to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
The shocking revelation led to a wave of panic on the left and a chorus of cheers on the right. But both sides wanted extended information released to either quench those fears or back up their assertions.
It was perhaps the most politically consequential letter Comey could have issued. With just 11 days to go until Election Day, calls for additional information came flying in.
In his letter to congressional leaders, Comey said the team in charge of looking into Clinton’s use of a private email server briefed him Thursday on new emails it found “in connection with an unrelated case.”
“The FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant,” Comey wrote, adding, “I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work.”
Officials later said the additional emails uncovered were in connection with an investigation into the sexting scandal surrounding former Rep. Anthony Weiner — the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The calls for an immediate release of the new information were capped by an on-the-fly press conference convened by Clinton herself Friday evening, during which she insisted the FBI director must release “pertinent” information “immediately.”
“The American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately,” Clinton told reporters before taking questions.
When asked about the connection to the Weiner investigation, she said she had “heard these rumours.” But until additional information is released, “we don’t know what to believe.”
Earlier in the day, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta — who is caught up in his own email worries, as WikiLeaks continues to dump large quantities of messages hacked from his personal account — called on Comey to “provide the full details of what he is now examining,” saying that he “owes it to the American people.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, insisting that there “has always been more froth than fact on this issue,” called on Comey to be transparent.
“Director Comey has a responsibility to the public to provide more information than a three-paragraph letter so that the public can base their opinions on facts, not speculation,” he said in a Friday evening statement.
And going even further, Democratic National Committee Interim Chair Donna Brazile called Comey’s letter “irresponsible.”
“The FBI has a solemn obligation to remain neutral in political matters — even the faintest appearance of using the agency’s power to influence our election is deeply troubling,” she wrote in a statement. “At the very least, Director Comey must immediately address the serious outstanding questions over what, precisely his letter means, and what action or actions his agency plans to take.”
On the right, meanwhile, the calls themselves for transparency from Comey were nearly identical — although they came from a completely different viewpoint.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Republican nominee Donald Trump’s running mate, used nearly identical language to Clinton. He tweeted that the FBI should “immediately” release emails “pertinent” to the investigation. Top Trump surrogate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he agreed with Podesta, tweeting that the “American people deserve to know before they vote.”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a top Trump supporter and 2016 GOP presidential candidate, echoed Pence and Gingrich.
And Sen. Ron Johnson, who has not gone out of his way to boost Trump’s candidacy, released a lengthier statement.
Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said it’s “in line” with Comey’s “commitment” to transparency that he should release “as much information” on the new developments “as possible.”
“In particular, there are important questions about the nature and source of these new emails, when and how the FBI learned of them, what investigative steps the FBI is taking to obtain these emails, and the role of the Justice Department in the process,” he said in the statement.
He added: “Most importantly, if the FBI determines that any additional classified information has been put at risk of exposure to our enemies, it is vital that the intelligence community take all appropriate steps to mitigate the potential damage to our national security.”
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