In About Face, President Obama Criticizes Comey for Re-opening Clinton E-mail Investigation… but White House Downplays Comments

President Obama at a campaign event for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. (Credit: Al Drago/The New York Times)
President Obama at a campaign event for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. (Credit: Al Drago/The New York Times)

President Obama sharply criticized the decision by his F.B.I. director to alert Congress on Friday about the discovery of new emails related to the Hillary Clinton server case, implying that it violated investigative guidelines and trafficked in innuendo.

“We don’t operate on incomplete information,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with NowThis News, broadcast Wednesday. “We don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”

“When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the F.B.I., the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable,” Mr. Obama said.

The president did not mention the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, but it was clear Mr. Obama was referring to him.

Declaring that he had “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,” Mr. Obama nonetheless expressed confidence in Mrs. Clinton.

“I trust her,’’ he said. “I know her. And 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.’’

White House officials later downplayed Mr. Obama’s remarks about the F.B.I. and insisted he had not meant to criticize Mr. Comey.

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SOURCE: GARDINER HARRIS and ADAM GOLDMAN 
The New York Times