In an interview Sunday with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” the Clinton campaign chairman complained the FBI should have investigated enough to know exactly what it was dealing with before announcing the review.
“He might have taken the first step of actually having looked at them before he did this in the middle of a presidential campaign, so close to the voting,” Podesta said.
Comey’s Friday notification to Congress of the review is rocking the final days of the presidential race. Democrats are furious that Comey would revive the explosive issue of Clinton’s email server so close to the election. Donald Trump, meanwhile, is seizing on the review after spending weeks on the defense, hoping it will be a potent issue he can ride until the end of the contest.
“This is something that has been tossed into the middle of the campaign. We would have preferred that not happen, but now that it has happened, we would prefer that Mr. Comey come forward and explain why he took that unprecedented step,” Podesta said.
The campaign chairman called Comey’s handling of the matter “inappropriate.”
Podesta asked if, just days from the election, Comey’s revelation is “something you toss on the table, or do you take the time and do what other prosecutors have done in the past and make sure it’s so significant that you have to go forward with it?”
On Saturday, CNN’s Evan Perez reported that Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates disagreed with Comey’s decision to notify Congress about the bureau’s review of emails found on at least device of Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the discussion.
But Comey decided to disregard that warning and went ahead and sent the letter to Congress. Comey’s decision to send the letter angered his superiors at the Justice Department, but officials acknowledge there is little they can do given the fallout of the Attorney General’s meeting with Bill Clinton on the Arizona tarmac this past summer.
On Sunday, CNN reported that the Justice Department and Abedin’s lawyers are in talks to permit a full review of the emails.
Podesta also told Tapper that Clinton has learned from her use of a private email server at the State Department.
“I think she obviously would like to take that decision back, but she’s learned from it,” he said.
Podesta defended long-time top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, the estranged wife of Anthony Weiner — the disgraced former congressman whose lewd texts with a 15-year-old girl are under FBI investigation, and whose computer contained the emails that Comey is reviewing.
“I think it’s clear that she (Abedin) complied to the best of her abilities, turned everything over that she had in her possession. I don’t know anything more than the speculation that’s running wild in the press now what this is about,” Podesta said.
He said that Abedin, who was not traveling with Clinton yesterday, is still serving in her same role on the campaign.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway continued the campaign’s criticism of Comey for refusing to recommend criminal charges against Clinton in July, pointing to his “unprecedented statement to the world on July 25 where he was leading up to a conclusion that was different from the one that he announced.”
“I guess he was trying to clear his own conscience,” she said of his latest step.
Still, she praised Comey’s decision to announce the FBI is reviewing newly discovered emails possibly tied to Clinton’s server.
“Hillary Clinton flouted the law and set up a private server so she could hide stuff from the public,” Conway said.