FBI's James Comey Back on Hot Seat Over Trump Campaign Russian Connection

 

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FBI’s James Comey Back on Hot Seat Over Trump Campaign Russian Connection

Facing Unprecedented Criticism on Capitol Hill

FBI Director James Comey is back on the hot seat with his credibility on the line again over the Russian connection to Donald Trump's election campaign. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

FBI Director James Comey is back on the hot seat with his credibility on the line again over the Russian connection to Donald Trump’s election campaign. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

FBI Director James Comey is back on the hot seat over Russia’s alleged effort to tip the election to Donald Trump. But after his own partisan foray into presidential politics, Comey and the agency are facing unprecedented criticism on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid, who is retiring, has called for Comey’s ouster for withholding evidence of Russia’s involvement in the election while the campaign was in progress.

In contrast, Comey revealed in a letter to Congress just 11 days before the election that the FBI was reopening its investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email server.

The move violated Justice Department protocols and tradition not to discuss investigations of election officials in the middle of a campaign. Comey cleared Clinton three days before the election, but by then, he’d inflicted incalculable damage to her campaign.

Comey’s partisanship caused the agency to spin out of control with other leaks in an effort to damage Clinton’s campaign.

But Comey apparently had no qualms about protecting Trump.

The FBI knew in September that the CIA had concluded “with a high level of certainty” that the Russian government was trying to elect Trump, according to Reid. But the CIA finding was only made public last week in a Washington Post story.

“This is not fake news. Intelligence officials are hiding connections to the Russian government. There is no question,” Reid told MSNBC. “Comey knew and deliberately kept this info a secret.”

Reid asserted that Comey “let the country down for partisan purposes.”

Behind the scenes, elected officials were in turmoil over how to handle the explosive CIA finding.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deflected a desire by the White House to make the information public by threatening to accuse the Obama administration of partisanship, according to The Post.

The administration reportedly wanted Republican and Democratic lawmakers to make a joint announcement about Russian interference. But McConnell refused to go along.

Trump has tapped McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, to head the Department of Transportation. She’ll require Senate confirmation.

Now, the FBI appears to be playing down the CIA’s finding, according to The Post.

Part of the difference in view is being attributed to the FBI’s law enforcement role, which focuses on criminal evidence. The CIA assessments are based on a broader range of information.

For his part, Trump has lashed out at the intelligence agency, calling reports about its findings “ridiculous.”

Comey’s fate under Trump’s Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions is unknown. Trump supporters were just as steamed at the FBI director for clearing Clinton of wrongdoing a second time.

But one thing is certain, Comey is a long way from restoring his reputation or the FBI’s tarnished image