Former Attorney General Eric Holder and Republican former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales railed against FBI director James Comey for his recent investigative actions into new emails possibly linked to Hillary Clinton’s email server.
In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Holder, a Democrat who served under President Obama, described Comey’s decision as “incorrect” and his decision to announce to Congress a review of the new emails was “a stunning breach” of law enforcement protocol. “I am deeply concerned about FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision to write a vague letter to Congress about emails potentially connected to a matter of public, and political, interest,” he concluded.
He said Comey’s letter to Congress on Friday explaining that the FBI is reviewing fresh emails possibly related to Clinton’s use of a private email server “violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition” and also contravened “guidance that I put in place four years ago” to carry out investigations during an election cycle.
“I served with Jim Comey, and I know him well. This is a very difficult piece for me to write. He is a man of integrity and honor. I respect him. But good men make mistakes. In this instance, he has committed a serious error with potentially severe implications,” Holder said in the opinion piece.
Several other Democratic officials and some Republicans criticized Comey for his timing of the letter.
“I fear he has unintentionally and negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI,” Holder noted. “And he has allowed—again, without improper motive—misinformation to be spread by partisans with less than pure intentions.”
The FBI generally doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations “except in exceptional circumstances,” the former attorney general said, “The department will not even acknowledge the existence of an investigation. The department also has a policy of not taking unnecessary action close in time to Election Day.”
Gonzalez echoed Holder’s statement, saying the letter was an “error in judgment” and he’s “somewhat perplexed about what the director was trying to accomplish here.”
“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,” Gonzales told CNN on Monday.
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey also slammed Comey’s decision, writing an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.
“Regardless of what is in the newly discovered emails, the current Justice Department will not permit a grand jury to hear evidence in this case. And because only a grand jury can constitutionally bring charges, that means no charges will be brought,” Mukasey wrote. “Which is to say, we know enough to conclude that what we don’t know is of little immediate relevance to our current dismal situation.”