The new revelation that James Comey circulated a draft of a statement he wrote as FBI director exonerating Hillary Clinton in last year’s email investigation appears to be at odds with what he told a House panel last September.
“If colleagues of ours believe I am lying about when I made this decision, please urge them to contact me privately so we can have a conversation about this,” Comey said during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 28, 2016.
“All I can do is tell you again, the decision was made after that because I didn’t know what was going to happen in that interview,” he added. (RELATED: Comey Drafted Statement Clearing Hillary Way Before He Interviewed Her)
That statement, which Politico flagged on Thursday, appears to conflict with the revelation on Thursday that two of Comey’s top aides at the FBI said in transcribed interviews last year that Comey circulated drafts clearing Clinton as early as last April, months before he actually publicly cleared the former secretary of state, who had been under investigation for mishandling classified information on her private email server.
Clinton was interviewed by federal investigators on July 2, 2016. Three days later, Comey announced that he would not be recommending charges be filed against Clinton.
In all, 17 witnesses would be interviewed after Comey drafted memos which pointed to Clinton being exonerated, say Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Grassley and Graham sent a letter this week to the FBI asking about Comey’s decision to write the memos.
“Conclusion first, fact-gathering second — that’s no way to run an investigation,” the two Republicans wrote. “The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy.”
“The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts,” they added.
Grassley and Graham found out about the Comey drafts while investigating the circumstances of the former FBI director’s May 9 firing by President Trump. As part of the inquiry, they were provided with transcripts of interviews given by James Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff, and Trisha Anderson, the principal deputy general counsel of national security and cyberlaw at the FBI.
The two FBI officials gave the interviews last year as part of an investigation conducted by the Office of Special Counsel into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.
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