President Obama obliquely criticizes the FBI’s handling of the ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server in an interview conducted Tuesday with NowThis News and made public Wednesday; video above. Here’s the transcript of the president’s answer to a question about James Comey’s letter to Congress:
Well, you know, I’ve made a very deliberate effort to make sure that I don’t look like I’m meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments. Setting aside the particulars of this case, I know that [Clinton] is somebody who has always looked out for the interests of America and the American people first. And I do think there is a norm that when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo, we don’t operate on incomplete information, we don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made. When this was investigated thoroughly, the last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable.
Comey’s letter isn’t a leak, and it probably doesn’t count as innuendo, but it does seem that Obama’s use of the phrase “incomplete information” would apply to the FBI director’s decision to make the existence of a renewed investigation public before that investigation—which at this point does not seem likely to change the agency’s decision not to recommend that Clinton be prosecuted—was complete. There have also been a number of leaks about the case emanating from the FBI as a whole since Comey’s letter was made public.