FBI Director James Comey planned to write an op-ed early last summer making the case that Russia was meddling in the U.S. election, but other top Obama administration officials vetoed the idea.
That’s according to a report from Newsweek magazine.
“The White House shut it down,” one source told the magazine of Comey’s op-ed offer. “They did their usual — nothing.”
The revelation, if accurate, would appear to suggest that the Obama administration did not take Russia’s meddling in the presidential campaign as seriously as many Democrats would have liked.
Comey, who took over the FBI in 2013, proposed the op-ed during a meeting in June or July in the situation room of the White House in which Sec. of State John Kerry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Sec. of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson were also present, according to Newsweek.
“He had a draft of it or an outline. He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward, what do people think of this?'” a source with knowledge of the meeting told Newsweek of Comey.
According to Newsweek’s source, Comey’s op-ed would have laid out some of the evidence showing that the Kremlin was attempting to influence the presidential election. The Obama administration would not make a similar public accusation until Oct. 7, when the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security alleged that Russia was involved in cyber attacks against Democrats.
The piece, which likely would have been placed at an outlet like The New York Times, would not have revealed anything about an investigation into possible ties between the Russian government and Trump campaign. Comey said earlier this month that the FBI opened that probe in early July.
The other Obama administration officials opposed the idea, Newsweek reports, because they preferred a more coordinated message.
“An op-ed doesn’t have the same stature, it comes from one person,” Newsweek’s source said.
Democrats have blamed the Obama administration for failing to address Russian meddling early enough in the campaign cycle. Comey has been one of the biggest targets for criticism, largely because of his public involvement in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.