Former White House ethics lawyer Richard W. Painter contended in a New York Times opinion piece published Sunday that the FBI director broke the law with his letter to congress announcing the FBI was examining new emails related to its probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Painter argued that FBI Director James Comey violated the Hatch Act, which ensures “that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion,” by making “highly unusual public statements about an FBI investigation concerning a candidate in the election.”
Painter said he brought those concerns to the Office of Special Counsel and the Office of Government Ethics with a a complaint against the FBI.
“The letter was sent in violation of a longstanding Justice Department policy of not discussing specifics about pending investigations with others, including members of Congress,” wrote Painter.
He also referred to such a disclosure on the eve of a general election as an “abuse of power.”
Painter served as an ethics lawyer for George W. Bush’s administration from 2005-2007. In the piece Painter discloses that he supported GOP candidates during the primaries, but eventually pivoted to Hillary Clinton.
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