Once again, James Comey is persona non grata in 'Hillary Land.'
After the FBI director on Monday acknowledged a months-long probe into possible links between Russian operatives and Trump campaign associates, veterans of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid sharply questioned why Comey waited until now -- after their boss lost -- to confirm it.
Comey had famously aired details of the investigation into Clinton's private email use as secretary of state, including an announcement 11 days before the election that the FBI was revisiting the case, only to close it again.
By contrast, he did not confirm the nature of the investigation into Russian meddling in the campaign until his testimony Monday. While Comey shared few details of the bureau’s inquiry during a lengthy public session before the House Intelligence Committee, he said the investigation -- which includes looking at possible Trump team links -- dated back to July.
“Russia probe that Comey confirmed was, as best we can tell, in effect before Nov 8. Fair to ask why he didn’t think voters deserved to know,” tweeted Brian Fallon, who formerly served as press secretary for Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee.
Much of the Clinton staffers' irritation stemmed from what they viewed as a double standard: Comey was particularly forthcoming about the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server to send and receive classified material and yet appeared overly cautious about discussing the Trump probe.
During a news conference in July – the same month the bureau began looking into the alleged Trump-Russia connection – Comey gave a news conference announcing the FBI’s recommendation not to prosecute Clinton; however, during the same statement, Comey also accused Clinton of being “extremely careless.” Then, in late October, Comey sent a letter to Congress – which soon became public – informing some members of possible new developments in the Clinton email saga. Two days before the election, however, Comey sent a follow-up letter again saying that no charges would be sought against the Democratic standard bearer.
“July ’16: Comey opens investigation of Trump. Nothing public. July ’16: Comey closes HRC email, finds nothing – attacks publicly. Annoying,” tweeted ex-Clinton adviser Philippe Reines.
Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a prominent Clinton ally, took umbrage with Comey telling Congress on Monday that the bureau “cannot do our work well or fairly if we just start talking about it while we’re doing it.”
Tanden replied on Twitter: “Unless it’s right before an election, then we can blab away.”
Unless it's right before an election, then we can blab away. https://t.co/VcTl29J4zD— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) March 20, 2017
After citing a tweet noting Comey sought Department of Justice approval to discuss publicly the FBI investigation into Trump, Fallon observed it was “an approval he did not care to obtain in Clinton’s case.”
An approval he did not care to obtain in Clinton's case.https://t.co/15CbPPTZ90— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) March 20, 2017
A consensus quickly formed among left-leaning social media users and many in the media that Monday’s hearing was politically damaging for Trump, leading Reines to snark: “I’d rather be an unaffiliated Rikers inmate bracing for today’s gang pickup game in the yard than [Press Secretary] Sean Spicer bracing for today’s briefing.”
Clinton didn’t add to the chorus in her own words. However, she did retweet the ranking Democratic member on the intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, chiding Trump for several Monday tweets questioning the direction of the Russia hearings.
“The intelligence community concluded the Russians will interfere again,” Schiff tweeted. “This is why investigation is important to country. Please stop.”