With just 11 days until the election, FBI Director James Comey announced that he was investigating new emails potentially tied to Hillary Clinton. Many immediately speculated that this was a partisan move aimed at helping Donald Trump and hurting Clinton's campaign in the final days of the election. While that's not exactly clear, it is clear that Comey ignored top Justice Department officials who explicitly told him that it wasn't policy to tell Congress about this investigation.
According to an anonymous Justice Department official who spoke to the Washington Post, other Justice Department officials told Comey "that [they] don’t comment on an ongoing investigation. And [they] don’t take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election."
Comey reportedly discovered "new" emails from Clinton during an investigation into sexts and illicit messages that Anthony Weiner allegedly exchanged with a 15-year-old girl, which Weiner has neither confirmed nor denied. However, these emails were not to or from Clinton. Moreover, they apparently didn't contain new information; rather, they contained information that the FBI was already aware of from its previous investigation. But Comey decided to take the cautious route by further investigating them, and the deviant route by circumventing clear department policies and informing Congress of this seemingly unnecessary investigation.
Comey reportedly gave Congress two reasons as to why he was looking into these emails now. First, he felt obligated to be transparent to lawmakers, and second, he feared rumors of the investigation would leak to the media and would worry voters that there was a deliberate FBI cover-up of the emails, according to the Post. But despite these concerns, Comey clearly ignored the Justice Department policies, according to an official who spoke to the Post:
Director Comey understood our position. He heard it from Justice leadership. It was conveyed to the FBI, and Comey made an independent decision to alert the Hill. He is operating independently of the Justice Department. And he knows it.
"Operating independently of the Justice Department" will certainly not dismiss speculation that Comey was making a concerted, partisan move by alerting Congress of this investigation, especially this close to the election. The Democratic Coalition Against Trump has already filed a formal DoJ complaint against Comey for the way he's handled this investigation.
The Clinton campaign has called for more transparency from Comey, asking the FBI to release specific details of what they're investigating with regards to these emails. By going above his superiors at the Justice Department, Comey made a questionable decision and proved that this bizarre election isn't slowing down any time soon.