On Wednesday, during an interview with NowThisNews, President Obama spoke about FBI Director James Comey and his decision to publicize the new review of emails related to the probe of Hillary Clinton's private server. "I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations, we don't operate on innuendo," Obama said. "We don't operate on incomplete information. We don't operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made."
The president went on to say:
When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the F.B.I., 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.
Obama also said that he, himself, had "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." However, as The New York Times pointed out its in report, Obama had, in fact, weighed in on the FBI probe of Clinton's private server as Secretary of State before the investigation had closed. He pointblank told CBS' 60 Minutes back in October 2015 that "I don't think it posed a national security problem."
Politicians and leaders from both sides of the aisle have criticized Comey for going against the FBI protocol of not publicly commenting on politically sensitive material 60 days or less before an election. Alberto Gonzales, who served as Attorney General under George W. Bush, called Comey's letter to the congressional chairmen notifying them that additional emails related to the Clinton investigation would be reviewed as an "error in judgment." Gonzales told CNN, "You don't comment on investigations because commenting on the investigation may jeopardize the investigation. And that's the box that he's put himself in, because people are now calling for more information — for release of the emails."
Michael Mukasey, who also served as Attorney General under Bush, criticized Comey, as well, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Monday:
True, we don't know what is actually in the emails of Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton's close aide, but we can nonetheless draw some conclusions about how FBI Director James Comey came to issue his Delphic notice to Congress, and what the near-term future course of this investigation will be. Regrettably, those conclusions do no credit to him, or to the leadership of the Justice Department, of which the FBI is a part.
Whether Obama's remarks will diffuse or further inflame the controversy surrounding Comey's decision remains to be seen.