The FBI released emails Monday confirming that former FBI Director James Comey drafted statements regarding the Hillary Clinton email investigation months before the probe was closed.
The bureau released a file entitled “Drafts of Director Comey’s July 5, 2016 Statement Regarding Email Server Investigation,” to its Freedom of Information Act website. The file contains an email Comey sent May 2, 2016, to several FBI officials regarding the Clinton email probe, which was referred to internally by the codename “Midyear Exam.”
The draft statement was first revealed in late August by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Republicans questioned whether Comey’s draft statement indicated that he had arrived at a conclusion about the Clinton investigation months before he interviewed the former secretary of state and numerous other witnesses. The draft was also prepared before the Justice Department had made immunity deals with Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson.
“Conclusion first, fact-gathering second — that’s no way to run an investigation,” Grassley and Graham wrote the FBI in August, seeking more information about Comey’s drafts.
“The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts,” they added.
Comey announced on July 5, 2016 — three days after FBI investigators finally interviewed Clinton — that he would not be recommending charges against the Democrat for mishandling classified information on her private email system.
The emails released on Monday do not show Comey’s draft statement. The contents of his email exchanges are completely redacted.
On May 16, 2016, Comey’s chief of staff, James Rybicki, forwarded Comey’s draft statement to other FBI officials asking for any comments on the document.
“Please send me any comments on this statement so we may roll into a master doc for discussion with the Director at a future date,” Rybicki wrote to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, FBI official Peter Strzock, the chief investigator on the Clinton probe, and several other FBI officials.