Will neither defend or slam FBI decision on Clinton: White House
The White House has refused to weigh in on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) decision to reopen its probe into the alleged email scandal of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, a move that has triggered a firestorm a week days ahead of the presidential election.
US President Barack Obama has full confidence in FBI Director James Comey, who he believes is not trying to influence the elections, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday.
The spokesman also refused to either defend or criticise the decision. “I’ll neither defend nor criticise what Director Comey has decided to communicate to the public about this investigation,” he said.
He was responding to questions on a letter written by Comey to Congressional leaders last week that he is reopening the case against Clinton, following finding of pertinent emails related to the case.
The letter has created a firestorm ahead of the November 8 election, with the Clinton Campaign questioning the intent of Comey less than 10 days before the crucial polls and has asked for more information from the FBI.
The Trump Campaign has welcomed the decision.
“What I will say is that the Department of Justice in our democracy is given expansive authority to conduct investigations. The Department of Justice is given subpoena power, they are allowed to compel witnesses to testify, they are able to collect evidence that’s not readily available necessarily, they’re even allowed to empanel a grand jury,” Earnest said.
The FBI comes under the Department of Justice.
“It’s important in the mind of the president that those authorities are tempered by an adherence to long-standing tradition and practice and norms that limit public discussion of facts that are collected in the context of those investigations. And the president believes that it’s important for those norms and traditions and guidelines to be followed,” he said.
“The good news is the president believes that Director Comey is a man of integrity, he’s a man of principle and he’s a man of good character,” Earnest said.
“That presumably is the reason that (the former US) President (George) Bush chose him to serve in a senior position at the Bush administration’s Department of Justice,” he said.
Responding to a question, he said Obama does not believe that Comey is trying to influence the elections.
“The president doesn’t believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election. The president doesn’t believe that he’s secretly strategising to benefit one candidate or one political party,” he said.