Recently, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes has taken center stage in the ongoing political and media scandal regarding Russia’s alleged involvement in the presidential election. Meanwhile, the California Republican’s Senate colleagues have vowed to see their intelligence committee’s investigation through to the end. Yet despite these groups’ shared focus on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, its possible collusion with Russia, and the latter’s own meddling to reportedly tank Hillary Clinton, one figure has remained a wildcard throughout it all — FBI Director James Comey.
According to a new report by Newsweek, Comey attempted to go public as early as the summer with information suggesting Russia had meddled with the presidential election. His efforts to do so, per two anonymous sources interviewed by the outlet, were ultimately blocked by President Barack Obama’s administration. During a June or July meeting in the White House situation room, Comey pitched disseminating the intelligence via an op-ed in a major newspaper, like the New York Times:
“He had a draft of it or an outline. He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward, what do people think of this?'” says a source with knowledge of the meeting, which included Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson and the national security adviser Susan Rice.
The other national security officials didn’t like the idea, and White House officials thought the announcement should be a coordinated message backed by multiple agencies, the source says. “An op-ed doesn’t have the same stature, it comes from one person.”
If true, the fact that Comey tried and failed to go public with U.S. intelligence agencies’ information regarding the matter would possibly save some face with Democrats who blamed the FBI director following Clinton’s loss in November. After all, it was Comey who came out in late October — mere weeks before the election — and announced additional emails were under review in the previously concluded investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. The FBI ultimately announced, for the second time, that Clinton had done nothing wrong — though just days before the vote.
Meanwhile, a late-October report indicated Comey was hesitant to publicly accuse Russia of meddling in the presidential election despite the evidence at hand. It wasn’t until his March 20th appearance before the House Intelligence Committee’s public hearing on Russian intelligence that Comey’s finally confirmed the FBI’s investigation into the matter.