According to an administration official close to the situation, Attorney General Loretta Lynch pressured FBI Director James Comey to keep the reopening of the bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private server quiet.
Citing the supposed Justice Department tradition of not influencing elections, Lynch and other department officials have reportedly expressed their frustration with Comey — an Obama-appointee Republican — in informing Congress, despite potentially "thousands" of new Clinton server emails coming to light, thus effectively forcing the director's hand to reopen the case.
"Coming less than two weeks before the Presidential election, Comey’s decision to make public new evidence that may raise additional legal questions about Clinton was contrary to the views of the Attorney General, according to a well-informed Administration official," the New Yorker reports.
According to the Administration official, Lynch asked Comey to follow Justice Department policies, but he said that he was obliged to break with them because he had promised to inform members of Congress if there were further developments in the case. He also felt that the impending election created a compelling need to inform the public, despite the tradition of acting with added discretion around elections. The Administration official said that Lynch and Justice Department officials are studying the situation, which he called unprecedented.
"You don’t do this," a former senior Justice Department official exclaimed, according to the New Yorker. "It’s aberrational. It violates decades of practice." Comey's announcement of the reopened case, the official said, "impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there’s no finding by a court, or in this instance even an indictment."
The truth is, of course, that Clinton has impugned her own "integrity and reputation" by her gross negligence as Secretary of State and subsequent attempts to obstruct justice to cover herself.
Despite all the outrage from officials, the reality is Comey had no choice. The integrity of the FBI has come under major fire since Comey first announced that he would not recommend charges against Clinton, even though, as he put it, the State Department under her leadership was “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, extremely classified information." Should Comey have covered up the information and concealed from Congress and the public the need to reopen the case, all to protect one party's presidential nominee, the bureau's reputation would have suffered irreparable damage.
As the New Yorker notes, former AG Eric Holder issued a memo four years ago stressing that the Justice Department must be "particularly sensitive to safeguarding the Department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality, and nonpartisanship" when handling political figures. Comey's decision to be transparent about the new evidence and the renewed investigation arguably follows Holder's admonition.
One of the most damaging aspects of the evidence is how it was uncovered. The bureau found the reported "thousands" of emails on a device owned by disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner — the estranged husband of Hillary Clinton's closest confidant Huma Abedin — while investigating allegations that he was conducting a sexual relationship online with a teenage minor. As Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro put it, after Abedin finally threw him over this summer to protect Clinton, "Now he has his revenge — even if he never meant to."
Just to throw salt in the wound, the presence of potentially sensitive information on Weiner's devices also proves Donald Trump right when he said, "I only worry in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information."
How Comey's announcement will impact the election, we'll see soon enough, but early polls indicate that it might do real damage to Clinton.