President Obama is vouching for Hillary Clinton in his latest direct appeal to millennial voters.
Speaking to Now This News, Obama made his first public statements about the FBI’s renewed focus on evidence possibly tied to Clinton’s private State Department email server.
“I know her; I trust her,” Obama said. “And you know, I wouldn’t be supporting her if I didn’t have absolute confidence in her integrity and her interest in making sure that young people have a better future.”
On Friday, FBI Director James Comey shook the presidential race by notifying Congress that the agency had discovered new information that may be relevant to an investigation into whether Clinton’s use of a private server and private email address violated security rules and laws.
In July, after a lengthy investigation, the FBI and Department of Justice declined to pursue charges in the case. While criticizing Clinton’s actions, Comey said “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case based on the evidence agents found.
But agents recently discovered emails that may be relevant to the case when examining the computer of former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of one of Clinton’s top aides, Huma Abedin.
Attempting to carefully walk a line between his support for Clinton and his unwillingness as president to, as he put it, “meddle” in an ongoing investigation, Obama said that “when this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes, but there wasn’t anything there that was, you know, prosecutable.”
FBI agents are currently sifting through the Abedin emails found on Weiner’s computer. It’s unclear when the agency will provide any official updates — or when developments may next leak to media outlets.
Clinton and many Democrats are blasting Comey for revealing the latest developments so close to an election, and before the facts were clear. (Agents had not obtained a warrant to examine the new emails at the time that Comey sent his letter to Congress.)
Obama declined to join that pile-on, saying about the timing of Comey’s letter:
“I’ve made a very deliberate effort to make sure that I don’t look like I’m meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments,” Obama said.
“I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations — we don’t operate on innuendo, we don’t operate on incomplete information, we don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”
White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said Wednesday that Obama wasn’t trying to criticize Comey in the interivew.
Earlier this week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the White House would neither criticize nor defend Comey and that Obama “believes that Director Comey is a man of integrity, he’s a man of principle, and he’s a man of good character.”