Rep. Cohen: Comey was 'excessively careless,' hurt the FBI

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 31, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Fair and balanced now, Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen of the fine state of Tennessee, who has been among those calling on Director Comey to resign.

Congressman, might you be jumping the gun on that?

REP. STEVE COHEN, D-TENN.: Well, I don't think so.

And I'm a big fan of Jim Comey's. He -- the famous incident with Ashcroft, interfering with Card and Gonzales, made him kind of legendary in the world of folks in Washington who care about fair justice and stand-up guys.

And then I thought what he did this summer was good. I thought this sidebar about the secretary was wrong. But I overlooked that because I thought he came -- he was put in a difficult position, because he had to made the decision whether to indict or not indict, but General Lynch put in on him.

But then getting involved in this, this close to election, it just was not the right thing to do.

CAVUTO: You're talking about Loretta Lynch, the attorney general.


COHEN: Excuse me. Excuse me. Right.

CAVUTO: Right?

COHEN: Right.

CAVUTO: OK. Go ahead.


And getting involved in the election this close to the election, it's just wrong. There have been bipartisan groups of former prosecutors, number two people at Justice under Clinton and number two at Justice under Bush, have -- the Washington Post editorial said it was wrong.

President Bush II's ethics adviser, Mr. Painter, came out in The New York Times, said it was wrong and called on Justice to look into some actions against him. None of...


CAVUTO: Would you feel that way, let's say, if he made his July 5 decision, Congressman, on Friday? Would you feel the same way?

COHEN: No, you just don't get involved in an election. The rule at Justice is, you don't get involved within 60 days of an election. And within 11 days is just too much.


CAVUTO: Quietly, he could be doing all of this. In other words, that he could have pursued this, I think as the Justice Department said would be OK, but not to make a public case out of it. But wouldn't word leak out anyway?

COHEN: I don't know that it necessarily would. It could have. And things have leaked. But he shouldn't have been the one to do it. And if leaked, it leaked.

You can't stop that. But he shouldn't have been the one to make the statement. And that is just against all policies in Justice. That's why Eric Holder...


CAVUTO: But what would he do, sir, if thousands -- if thousands of emails have materialized -- I don't know what the final case well be. Many might be duplicates. Many might be new. They might not have the classified information. They might.

But he is kind of between a rock and a hard place, right?

COHEN: That's why you give a guy a 10-year term and you make him the FBI director, because you know how to navigate between a rock and hard place.

You have got to be a good person to be at the head of the ship to be the captain to do that. And you're supposed to look at the agency as your first concern, and not the rock and the hard place where it might hurt you if you hit a shoal. And I'm afraid...

CAVUTO: Do you think he is an honorable -- a man of integrity, as Josh Earnest was saying at the White House today?

COHEN: I think he is. I always respected him. I continue to respect him.

I think he was excessively careless in this position of making this statement. I think he's hurt the Bureau. I think he's hurt Justice. And I'm not...


CAVUTO: You don't think Hillary Clinton was careless? None of this would even be happening if she were not. Right?

COHEN: I don't think that Director Comey should have made that decision.  And I don't disagree with his conclusion.

But I do think it was inappropriate for him to make it. An investigator investigates and gives the results of their investigation. And it's an indictment or no indictment. And it's not a long diatribe and putting a label.

CAVUTO: But if stuff just drops in your lap, what do you do?

COHEN: Well, if you're the FBI director, you don't do anything, because that's not your job. You take an oath to uphold at the policies and the law.


CAVUTO: But wait a minute. You just said you commended his job by acting when he did back on July 5. And now thousands of emails potentially drop in his lap out of nowhere. He didn't see them coming. His agents brought them to attention last week.

So, what is he supposed to do?

COHEN: But he doesn't know what it's in the emails. The emails could be -- like you said, they could be all duplicative. None of them may show...

CAVUTO: Which is why he gave a heads-up. Look, I have pertinent information that has come forward. Essentially, I don't know what to do, but I want to let you guys know. I have become apprised of this and I can't ignore it. Right?

COHEN: A fine lawyer like Jim Comey knows foreseeability.

CAVUTO: All right.

COHEN: And when you put out information like this at this time to Donald Trump, it's like putting a match to a fire, to a flame, and you're just going to have a problem.

And then you throw Anthony Weiner into the mix, you have got a sensational situation that's going to cause havoc at the ballot box. And that is something that shouldn't happen in the democracy of the United States of America.

CAVUTO: Congressman, thank you for taking the time, Steve Cohen of Tennessee.

COHEN: You're welcome, Neil. Nice to be with you.

CAVUTO: Good seeing you. All right.

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