Amidst the furor following the FBI and Justice Department’s decision not to charge Hillary Clinton for the handling of her State Department emails, there has been much less attention paid to the important point made by former DOJ spokesman Matt Miller that FBI Director James Comey violated the practice and rules of the Justice Department in his press conference. Examination of two historical examples of investigations of high government officials supports Miller’s criticism of Comey’s “willingness to reprimandpublicly a figure against whom he believes there is no basis for criminal charges” as threatening fundamental notions of due process in government investigations.
Miller’s prediction that Comey was “inserting himself into the middle of a political campaign” was borne out during the House Oversight Committee’s hearing on July 7 questioning Comey about his decision. While one side engaged in an effort to persuade Comey to say negative things about Clinton (presumably in sound bites appropriate for political campaign ads), the other emphasized Comey’s Republican credentials in deciding that there were no grounds to bring criminal charges against Clinton. While Comey endeavored to stay above the fray, at least in his demeanor, we were left with the extraordinary situation of the Director of the FBI giving his opinion about the actions of the Democratic nominee for President.
The above excerpt was originally published in Just Security.
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