Just the facts ma’am, just the facts, as Joe Friday used to say.
But in the case of FBI Director James Comey and revelations about Hillary Clinton’s playing fast and loose with her emails during her time as secretary of State, it is a matter of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Comey did and Harry Reid damned.
In a letter to the FBI director, Reid accused Comey of violating the Hatch Act, which bars officials from interfering with elections, by rushing to reveal “the slightest innuendo related to Secretary Clinton … in the most negative light possible.”
Of course, image what others would say upon discovering Comey had come into possession of information that obviated his previous claims that Clinton was not prosecutable due to a lack of intent — though law has a “gross negligence” standard. There would have been screams of a coverup. Not revealing facts is just as influential on an election as revealing facts, or more so.
The damnation of Watergate was over the coverup.
“Moreover, in tarring Secretary Clinton with thin innuendo, you overruled longstanding tradition and the explicit guidance of your own Department,” Reid berated. “You rushed to take this step eleven days before a presidential election, despite the fact that for all you know, the information you possess could be entirely duplicative of the information you already examined which exonerated Secretary Clinton.”
And then again it might not be.
“Director Comey is updating his previous testimony, and he should do that,” U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said in an interview with the WSJ on Sunday. “Hillary Clinton can only blame herself for this mess. She created this problem, not Director Comey.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., called Reid in a Twitter posting a disgrace. “Harry Reid is a disgrace to American politics, among worst men ever in Senate. He can’t go soon enough, & many Democrats privately agree.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said of Reid, “Thank god he’s leaving is my initial reaction,” adding that “anyone capable of sending that press release has to be under the influence of something.”
Here is the entire Reid letter:
Dear Director Comey:
Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another. I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election. Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.
The double standard established by your actions is clear.
In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.
By contrast, as soon as you came into possession of the slightest innuendo related to Secretary Clinton, you rushed to publicize it in the most negative light possible.
Moreover, in tarring Secretary Clinton with thin innuendo, you overruled longstanding tradition and the explicit guidance of your own Department. You rushed to take this step eleven days before a presidential election, despite the fact that for all you know, the information you possess could be entirely duplicative of the information you already examined which exonerated Secretary Clinton.
As you know, a memo authored by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on March 10, 2016, makes clear that all Justice Department employees, including you, are subject to the Hatch Act. The memo defines the political activity prohibited under the Hatch Act as “activity directed towards the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.”
The clear double-standard established by your actions strongly suggests that your highly selective approach to publicizing information, along with your timing, was intended for the success or failure of a partisan candidate or political group.
Please keep in mind that I have been a supporter of yours in the past. When Republicans filibustered your nomination and delayed your confirmation longer than any previous nominee to your position, I led the fight to get you confirmed because I believed you to be a principled public servant.
With the deepest regret, I now see that I was wrong.
Senator Harry Reid
What Comey said previously: