We now know FBI director James Comey disregarded a direct warning from his boss the attorney general that notifying congressional Republican leaders of inquiries into emails that may or may not be germane to the earlier Hillary Clinton investigation would violate the long-standing law-enforcement principle against public statements that might affect election results.
CNBC is now reporting that Comey cited the same don’t-mess-with-elections principle in privately (and unsuccessfully) opposing the intelligence community’s October 7 statement fingering the Russian government for trying to interfere with said elections.
Yes, if pressed, it is likely Comey would argue his own press conference about the Clinton emails made the topic instantly and eternally subject to public clarification, presumably right on up there to November 8. But it will be hard for him to avoid the impression of a double standard, particularly since the whole point of the statement about the Russians was to protect the integrity of U.S. elections. No wonder the Justice Department is making it clear that it will try to dispose of the email issue very quickly. But it will be hard to unring that bell, just as it will be difficult for Comey to make it sound like he had no choice but to toss a stink bomb into the presidential campaign in late October.