On Wednesday, President Obama spoke with NowThisNews about a number of subjects, including his administration’s weighing of a reroute for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Obama also took the opportunity (after maintaining a distance on the subject for several days) to criticize FBI Director Comey for the way he handled reopening the Clinton email probe. Comey faced an onslaught of criticism over the public nature of his announcement, along with the timing (days before an election) and his hazy language over emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop that may have nothing to do with Clinton.
Due to Comey’s disorganized way of handling of the situation, the reopened probe didn’t even manage to scrounge up a warrant until the public and media had already speculated for days. Obama stressed that he didn’t want to interfere with law enforcement’s process or appear to be taking a political stance. Yet he wasn’t pleased about the timing and the vagueness of Comey’s letter. He never mentioned the FBI director by name:
“I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo and we don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”
Obama took issue with how the nebulous language allowed Clinton detractors to try and spin a “political controversy” that could end up yielding absolutely nothing. He stated confidence in the Democratic nominee:
“The fact of the matter is that Hillary Clinton, having been in the arena for 30 years, oftentimes gets knocked around and people say crazy stuff about her and when she makes a mistake, an honest mistake, it ends up getting blown up as if it’s some crazy thing. I trust her. I know her. And I wouldn’t be supporting her if I didn’t have absolute confidence in her integrity and making sure that young people have a better future.”
The president also touched upon how Clinton had made some “mistakes” in how she handled her private email server while she was secretary of state, but nothing “prosecutable” arose from the FBI investigation that was closed in July (although Comey labeled her “extremely careless”). Obama took care not to cross into Comey-bashing territory during this interview, but the gloves are starting to come off. A few days after Comey sent his very public letter to Congress, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated that Obama considered Comey to be “a man of integrity and character and principle” and would not “defend or criticize” him.