WASHINGTON ― FBI Director James Comey, by sending a vaguely worded letter to members of Congress on Friday that suggested he was re-opening the probe into Hillary Clinton’s email use, decided to become the central player in the presidential election’s final two weeks.
It was an unprecedented break with FBI practice throughout the agency’s history. But now that Comey is involved and the precedent is shattered, it looks like he has little choice but to keep talking.
“This letter is troubling because it is vaguely worded and leaves so many questions unanswered,” said four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee in a letter sent Saturday. The Clinton camp, too, has been demanding Comey come forward with more information. Neither the Democratic senators nor the Clinton camp, though, have said exactly what questions they need answered.
Despite Comey’s dramatic entrance into the campaign, it’s striking how basic the remaining questions are. Here are a few.
Do you know how many emails you found? If so, how many?
There are reports that the emails number in the thousands. What is that based on? Are any of them classified? Any sent by or to Hillary Clinton? Are they duplicates of emails you’ve already read and analyzed?
Do you have access to them? Have you even seen the emails?
A letter Comey sent to FBI employees suggested the agency did not yet have access to the emails. New reporting by Michael Isikoff at Yahoo News finds that the FBI doesn’t yet have a warrant to review.
Perhaps Comey thinks that point is obvious to the public. But Donald Trump is on the campaign trail telling supporters that, without question, the FBI found something incriminating, otherwise it never would have taken such an extraordinary step. In Trump’s defense, his logic is sound. But if Comey took this step without having any idea what’s in the emails, he needs to let Trump (and everyone else) know that’s the case.
Do you plan to analyze the emails before Election Day?
The public ― and we journalists ― would kindly like to know if Comey has any more bombshells planned, or if he’s done until next Tuesday.
At this point, that’s not too much to ask.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that only Republican members of Congress received Comey’s letter.