No place for ‘innuendo’ in Clinton FBI probe: Obama
US President Barack Obama voiced unhappiness over “leaks” connected with the FBI’s investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her time as US Secretary of state.
“I’ve made a very deliberate effort to make sure that I don’t look like I’m meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments,” Obama said in an interview with Now This News, a mobile-only news app, Efe news reported.
Posted on Wednesday, it was the president’s first public comment on FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure last Friday that the Bureau had “learned of the existence of e-mails that appear pertinent to the investigation” of Clinton’s private e-mail server.
“I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo, we don’t operate on incomplete information, we don’t operate on leaks,” Obama told Now This News in what appeared to be criticism of Comey’s handling of the case.
On Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration was neither defending nor faulting Comey’s decision to disclose the possibility of new evidence.
“The president does not believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election,” the spokesman said.
Obama cited what he described as the FBI’s “exhaustive” initial investigation of Clinton’s e-mails, which culminated in July with a recommendation against charging the former first lady.
“When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes. But there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable,” Obama said of the woman he hopes will succeed him.
“You know, the fact of the matter is that Hillary Clinton, having been in the arena for 30 years, oftentimes gets knocked around, and people say crazy stuff about her, and when she makes a mistake, an honest mistake, it gets blown up as if it’s some crazy thing,” the president said.
While acknowledging that some voters may have concerns about Clinton, Obama said: “I trust her. I know her. I wouldn’t be supporting her if I didn’t have absolute confidence in her integrity.”
Justice Department officials said they will have no further comment about the Clinton e-mails until the probe is completed, which is unlikely to come before voters go to the polls on November 8, given that investigators have some 650,000 messages to review.
The previously unknown e-mails were found on devices shared by former Rep. Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, in the course of unrelated investigation of the disgraced ex-congressman.
The e-mail controversy erupted in 2015 when it emerged that Clinton had used a private e-mail account for official business throughout her 2009-2013 tenure as Obama’s secretary of state.
The account operated over a private server located inside Bill and Hillary Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York.