WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General Eric Holder is criticizing FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reveal the recent discovery of emails potentially related to the bureau’s earlier investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private server.
Writing in the Washington Post on Monday, Holder called Comey’s decision “incorrect.”
He said Comey’s letter to Congress announcing a review of the new emails was “a stunning breach” of law enforcement protocol and one that carried “potentially severe implications” during a presidential campaign.
“I served with Jim Comey, and I know him well. This is a very difficult piece for me to write. He is a man of integrity and honor. I respect him. But good men make mistakes. In this instance, he has committed a serious error with potentially severe implications,” Holder wrote.
“It is incumbent upon him — or the leadership of the department — to dispel the uncertainty he has created before Election Day. It is up to the director to correct his mistake — not for the sake of a political candidate or campaign but in order to protect our system of justice and best serve the American people.”
The former Attorney General wrote that Comey’s letter “violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition” not to comment publicly about politically sensitive investigations within 60 days of an election.
“It ran counter to guidance that I put in place four years ago laying out the proper way to conduct investigations during an election season. That guidance, which reinforced established policy, is still in effect and applies to the entire Justice Department — including the FBI,” he wrote.
Holder argued Comey “broke with these fundamental principles” with the announcement of the review.
“I fear he has unintentionally and negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI,” Holder wrote. “And he has allowed — again, without improper motive — misinformation to be spread by partisans with less than pure intentions.”
Holder acknowledged the charged political environment surrounding the Clinton email investigation, writing that he was “mindful” of the perception created by former President Bill Clinton’s tarmac meeting with current Attorney General Loretta Lynch over the summer during the FBI’s probe of the case.
But he added that “the solution was not for the FBI director to announce the department’s decision about whether to proceed” with additional investigation or review of the newly discovered emails.
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey also slammed Comey’s decision in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Mukasey, who served under George W. Bush, calls Comey’s original decision to “accede to the apparent wish of Obama that no charges be brought against Clinton,” “unworthy.” He claims this makes Comey’s letter to Congress irrelevant.
“Regardless of what is in the newly discovered emails, the current Justice Department will not permit a grand jury to hear evidence in this case. And because only a grand jury can constitutionally bring charges, that means no charges will be brought,” Mukasey writes. “Which is to say, we know enough to conclude that what we don’t know is of little immediate relevance to our current dismal situation.”