While much of the criticism hurled at FBI director James Comey for his letter to Congress on Friday that upended the presidential race has come from Democrats and supporters of nominee Hillary Clinton, one prominent Republican has publically slammed Comey and said he made an “error in judgment.”
Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general under George W. Bush, said over the weekend that he was “surprised” that Comey made the announcement about the investigation and that it was “contrary to typical protocol.”
“Sometimes you may make an announcement about an investigation and then you turn out not to do anything about it, but nonetheless it adversely affects someone's life,” Gonzales told NPR. “And it kind of surprised me that that letter went out, and I suppose that the reason for it is because we're in the middle of a presidential campaign. But nonetheless, I think it would be contrary to typical protocol.”
The FBI director told Congress in a letter that new emails uncovered during the sexting investigation of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner prompted investigators to take another look at whether classified information had been mishandled, which had been the focus of its recently closed, criminal probe into Clinton's use of a private email server.
Comey, who said he couldn't guarantee that the latest focus of the investigation would be finished before Election Day, did not provide details about the emails, but a U.S. official told The Associated Press that the emails emerged through the FBI's separate sexting probe of Weiner, who is separated from Clinton confidant Huma Abedin. She served as deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is still a key player in Clinton's presidential campaign.
Gonzales said that Comey’s statements over the summer – he called Clinton and her aides "extremely careless” with classified information, but added that no reasonable prosecutor would issue indictments – put the FBI director in in a difficult situation now that the new information has been discovered.
“You typically do not comment on investigations, ongoing investigations, and of course that protocol was breached this past summer when Director Comey gave that press conference talking about the investigation,” Gonzales said, according to Politico. “But again, you don't comment on investigations because commenting on the investigation may jeopardize the investigation. And that's the box he's put himself in."