The White House has spoken on the ongoing Hillary Clinton email scandal, and it looks like President Barack Obama is taking the safe route when it comes to FBI Director James Comey – he’s staying neutral with regards to Comey’s decision to reopen an investigation involving thousands of emails purportedly connected to Clinton’s private server.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Obama still supports Comey in his position as FBI head following the controversial move. However, the language of his press secretary Josh Earnest suggests that the White House is less than thrilled that the investigation on the Hillary Clinton email scandal is a hot-button topic among the general public.
The new controversy started when Comey sent a letter to Congress on Friday, announcing that emails recently attributed to Clinton aide Huma Abedin may be “pertinent” to the FBI’s investigation. Abedin is the estranged wife of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is currently under investigation for allegedly sexting a 15-year-old girl. Her emails were found when FBI agents were analyzing the contents of the computers seized from Weiner in relation to the sexting allegations, and that’s what sounded alarms within the agency and convinced the Justice Department to seek a new warrant to have the newly-discovered emails probed.
All in all, Earnest is taking a neutral stance with regards to Comey’s publicizing the investigation, but doesn’t believe the FBI director is trying to skew the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections in favor of one candidate or another.
“The president doesn’t believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election,” said Earnest at a press briefing on Monday. “The president doesn’t believe that he’s secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party. He’s in a tough spot. And he’s the one who will be in a position to defend his actions.”
Earnest also made reference to how former senior Justice Department officials were not happy with Comey’s decision, regardless of whether they served under a Democratic or Republican administration. He added that legal specialists also frown on the move, as it may set a precedent for future investigations to come.
“The president believes that our democracy has been very well-served for more than two centuries by officials at the Department of Justice and FBI observing long-standing traditions that limit public discussion of investigations whether an election is around the corner or not,” he added.
The Hillary Clinton email scandal has come at an inopportune time for the Democratic presidential nominee, though the latest polls show her still leading over her Republican rival, Donald Trump. According to NBC News and SurveyMonkey’s Weekly Election Tracking Poll, Clinton still held a six-point lead over Trump in the days immediately preceding Comey’s announcement of the email discovery. Isolating data taken this past weekend, after the news had broken, Clinton was still up by six points, with 47 percent to Trump’s 41 percent. The NBC/SurveyMonkey poll had been updated on October 29 and 30 to include questions regarding the email discovery.
Meanwhile, a report from ABC News noted that Obama is planning to “undertake a vigorous campaign” in support of Hillary Clinton, email scandal notwithstanding. The report also quoted Earnest as saying on Monday that he doesn’t expect any significant changes in Obama’s statements, but interestingly, the president wasn’t too concerned about the email controversy, even before Friday.
As of this writing, FBI officials remain unsure as to how many emails are the same as the ones they may have reviewed during the first Hillary Clinton email probe. And the scandal may very well keep heating up in the run-up to the elections, as noted by CNN; the new collection of emails may include those that were deleted from Clinton’s server prior to the FBI seizing it for the original investigation.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]