In a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, FBI Director Comey repeatedly refused to say whether the agency was conducting an investigation into links between the Donald Trump campaign for president and agents of the Russian government.
Questioned by Senator Angus King of Maine on the matter, Comey said “we never confirm or deny a pending investigation.”
“The irony of your making that statement here I cannot avoid,” King replied.
FBI director: “We never confirm or deny a pending investigation.”
Senator: “The irony of your making that statement here, I cannot avoid.” pic.twitter.com/rjCkm0eOmQ
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) January 10, 2017
King was referring, of course, to Comey’s startling break with precedent in October when he announced an investigation (which uncovered nothing untoward) into documents related to Hillary Clinton’s handling of email correspondence while Secretary of State.
The exchange was made even more fraught by a report by CNN later this afternoon of intelligence briefings given to the president-elect detailing claims by Russian officials that they possess “compromising personal and financial information” about Trump as well as “allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.”
There are many reasons why Clinton faced a difficult climb in November’s election, but Comey’s comments on an ongoing investigation, as much or more than anything else in such a close election, may have made a final difference.
It’s a shame, to say the very least, that the kinds of questions King is asking now weren’t fully explored before Election Day, instead.