On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid fired off a letter to FBI Director James Comey over his own Friday letter, which announced that the FBI was reopening its probe of Clinton-related emails. Comey did so (less than two weeks before the election) based upon the detection of messages on Anthony Weiner’s computer that he shared with top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. She had used the machine for some of her work-related communications.
All of this has caused plenty of speculation on both sides of the political spectrum. Part of this reaction was fueled by the vagueness of Comey’s letter, which simply stated that the FBI would determine whether classified information appeared in these messages. Clinton spoke out on Saturday to decry the timing of Comey’s announcement as “unprecedented” and “deeply troubling.” Reid agrees and posted his message to Comey to his website:
“Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another. I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election. Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.”
Reid then accuses Comey of a double standard. He alleges the presence of information (which Reid believes the FBI possesses) that would prove a close connection between Donald Trump and the Russian government. You can read that portion at the source, and god only knows whether it’s true. But the senior Nevada senator’s argument boils down to Comey possibly treating one major party candidate differently than the other.
By invoking the Hatch Act, Reid specifically alleges that Comey is attempting to sway an election through his duties as a federal employee. He also accuses Comey of “tarring Secretary Clinton with thin innuendo” and “overruling longstanding tradition” of treating sensitive information with discretion near an election. Reid can’t find a way to justify the timing of Comey’s disclosure when the information could be “entirely duplicative” of emails the FBI has already investigated. (Attorney General Loretta Lynch had also recommended Comey not send the letter on Friday).
The Washington Post reports Comey’s assertion that he had just learned of the messages on Thursday. However, some FBI agents reportedly knew of their existence (and possible relevance to Clinton’s use of a private email server) for weeks. On Sunday night, the FBI officially secured a warrant to investigate the emails.