President Barack Obama, in his first direct comments about the FBI's review of newly discovered emails that could be related to its probe of Hillary Clinton's private server, said Wednesday he prefers not to deal in "innuendo.""I do think that there is a norm ... when there are investigations, we don't operate on innuendo, we don't operate on incomplete information, we don't operate on leaks," Obama told the digital news outlet Now This News. "We operate on concrete decisions that are made."
Nearly a week after FBI Director James Comey made the surprise decision to intervene in the presidential race, it appears leading Democrats -- including the one who appointed the Republican to his post -- still aren't pleased.
The president did not mention Comey by name, but given the circumstances, he didn't have to.Around the same time, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN, in reference to the FBI director, "Maybe he's not in the right job."Also yesterday afternoon, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), soon to be the Senate Democratic Leader, told Bloomberg News he considers Comey's recent steps "appalling," adding, "I do not have confidence in him any longer." This came just days after the current Senate Democratic Leader, Nevada's Harry Reid, trashed Comey and accused him of potentially violating federal law.For those keeping score, this means the top Democrats in the White House, Senate, and House are all expressing their dissatisfaction with the FBI director -- all at the same time.I heard from some Democrats yesterday who said they weren't altogether pleased with the developments. For Hillary Clinton's sake, the argument goes, perhaps Dems should turn their attention away from Comey, focus solely on Donald Trump, and take steps to downplay the significance of the FBI story. From an electoral perspective, I understand this approach.But listening to Obama yesterday, one gets the sense the president isn't necessarily thinking about this in electoral terms: he genuinely seems to believe Comey went too far and feels the need to say so. Likewise, Pelosi and Schumer aren't necessarily thinking about the short-term political implications, but rather, the longer-term implications of Comey remaining in the director's office.
What's more, while the top Democrats in Washington are expressing their displeasure with Comey, let's not forget that this is not a strictly partisan affair. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Republicans' Benghazi Committee, conceded this week that the FBI director and his team "should not be discussing the facts of an investigation until the investigation is over."Rep. Jim Jordan (R- Ohio), chairman of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, agreed, saying Comey was "probably" in the wrong in his handling of this matter. Plenty of other Republicans, even Karl Rove, also voiced criticisms.Maybe the political impact of Comey's letter is muted in part because there's such a broad consensus that the FBI director made a mistake?