An Emergency Message to FBI Director James Comey:
It is essential that you speak to the American people as soon as possible to clarify messages you recently sent to Congress and FBI employees. You surely know that your statements about newly found e-mails—the content of which, you wrote, neither you nor bureau investigators know—have created tumultuous reactions and great confusion in these crucial days as Americans prepare to vote next Tuesday in this controversial and very important presidential election.
In your message to employees, you wrote that you did not want your message to Congress “to create a misleading impression.” You also noted that “there is a significant risk of being misunderstood.”
Indeed, your messages did create a misleading impression and, as you predicted, have been misunderstood. Your unusual actions are fueling uninformed debate about the candidates and about you and the bureau.
Only you have the capacity to mitigate the growing severe damage that is taking place as a result of your premature and unclear statements. You can do so by holding a press conference and announcing to the public that, given your and bureau investigators’ total lack of knowledge of whether the content of the newly found files has any connection to the Clinton e-mail case, voters should not consider your message to Congress or the existence of the new e-mails as having any bearing on their decision as they vote for president.
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From the beginning of James B. Comey’s 10-year term as FBI director, when he was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013, he has repeatedly condemned the practices of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Speaking of Hoover’s order to wiretap the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and use the tapes to drive the civil-rights leader to commit suicide, Comey said in a Georgetown University speech last year that he keeps these atrocities of his late predecessor in mind “to ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we learn from them.”
The director, however, seems not to have learned from other grievous mistakes made by Hoover. The actions Comey took last week place him firmly in one of Hoover’s worst traditions: using the enormous power of the bureau, whether or not intentionally, to affect the outcome of a presidential election.
The Department of Justice policies that prohibit actions that might influence an election were put in place and long adhered to because of a determination years ago to prevent both the bureau and the department from continuing Hoover’s illegal practice of taking steps to influence elections.