U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz believes that the way James Comey handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails was a factor in Donald Trump winning the presidency.
“Doing what he did 11 days before the election was inappropriate and definitely violative of longstanding FBI practice,” Wasserman Schultz said, adding that she couldn’t predict the extent of the impact or whether it cost Clinton the election.
But, she said, it had a negative impact.
“I don’t see how it couldn’t have. I don’t see how that announcement, him coming out again and saying what he said that close to the election, I don’t see how it didn’t have an effect,” Wasserman Schultz said Monday during an exchange with reporters in her district office in Sunrise.
But, she added, “there are a lot of things that cost Hillary Clinton the election.”
Wasserman Schultz emphasizes Russian meddling.
Wasserman Schultz, a Broward/Miami-Dade County Democrat, is a former Democratic national chairwoman. Her feeling toward Comey isn’t nearly as negative as the views held by many in Clinton’s camp.
On the subject of the former FBI director’s impact on the 2016 contest, many Democrats and independent analysts think Comey’s actions delivered the election to Trump.
First, Comey publicly chastised Clinton in July 2016 for being “extremely careless” in the way she handled classified information even as he concluded no criminal charges were warranted over the way she handled emails when she was secretary of state.
The big bombshell dropped 11 days before the election, when Comey announced a newly discovered cache of emails had been discovered. It wasn’t until two days before the election he announced a review determined there was no evidence to warrant action against Clinton.
Clinton, in her book “What Happened,” wrote last year that Comey had “shivved” her.
The widely respected data analyst Nate Silver, editor in chief of the website fivethirtyeight.com, said Comey’s late-in-the-campaign move produced a swing of about 3 percentage points against Clinton, a huge change in a close contest. Silver concluded that Comey’s late-campaign action, and the media coverage, “cost Clinton the election.”
During the buildup for the Tuesday release of Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” his Twitter and television war with Trump is getting most of the attention.
And that creates a conundrum for Democrats: While they blame Comey for the Clinton loss, he’s currently politically useful. They like Comey’s current status as a slashing critic of Trump, on matters of momentous importance, such as his fitness for office, truthfulness and Russian meddling in the election, as well as much more titillating questions, such as Comey’s description of Trump’s small hands and orange complexion.
Wasserman Schultz called Comey “an incredible public servant” who she said “deserves tremendous credit for being committed to public safety and public service.”
The president said he fired Comey because he didn’t like the course of the Russia investigation.
“A Higher Loyalty” is at the top of the Amazon best seller list, but Wasserman Schultz said she won’t be among the book’s readers. “Anything that distracts” from her work “is not something that interests me,” she said.
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