Politics

Trump: Comey Drafting Premature Exoneration Statement for Clinton Proof of ‘Rigged System’

President Donald Trump (C) shakes hands with James Comey / Getty

President Donald Trump on Friday called out James Comey after reports surfaced a day earlier that the former FBI director had drafted a statement to exonerate Hillary Clinton from the investigation into her private email server before key portions of the probe were complete.

"Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over…and so much more," Trump wrote on Twitter. "A rigged system!"

The Senate Judiciary Committee learned, through transcripts of interviews with top Comey aides, that the "former director began drafting an exoneration letter before interviewing Clinton and other key witnesses," the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Judiciary subcommittee chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) sent a letter to current FBI Director Chris Wray on Thursday regarding Comey's actions, Fox News reported.

"Conclusion first, fact-gathering second—that's no way to run an investigation," the letter said. "The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy."

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"According to the unredacted portions of the transcripts, it appears that in April or early May of 2016, Mr. Comey had already decided he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton," the letter said. "That was long before FBI agents finished their work. Mr. Comey even circulated an early draft statement to select members of senior FBI leadership. The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts."

While Comey delivered some damning lines last July calling Clinton "extremely careless" for her handling of highly classified information over her server, he did not recommend any criminal charges against the former secretary of state after the investigation into her private email server.

The Judiciary Committee is unsure whether specific FBI agents knew about the exoneration statement for Clinton last year, so the panel has requested all related FBI records to be sent to it.

Benjamin Wittes, a confidante of Comey and editor of the blog Lawfare, went on a tweet storm Friday after Trump hit Comey on Twitter.

"The people who think Comey was out to save Hillary really should have a cage match with those who think he was out to defeat her," Wittes wrote.

Trump cited what he called Comey's mishandling of the investigation into Clinton's emails as a reason why he fired Comey in May.