President Obama on Wednesday criticized FBI Director James Comey's decision to communicate to Congress that investigators have discovered new emails related to Hillary Clinton's server.
“We don't operate on innuendo. We don’t operate on incomplete information,” Obama said in an interview with “Now This.” “We don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”
Obama continued: “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.”
Comey revealed the existence of the emails in an ambiguous letter to Congress on Friday, less than two weeks before the presidential election. He said agents would take steps to review the messages, which were found on a computer seized during an unrelated investigation involving the estranged husband of a Clinton aide.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former New York congressman, is being investigated in connection with online communications with a teenage girl. He was separated this year from Huma Abedin, one of Clinton's closest advisers.
Asked if he was surprised about the timing of Comey's letter, Obama said 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."
He expressed confidence in Clinton and said she made an honest mistake with the emails which has been "blown up as some crazy thing."
Obama's comments Wednesday come after White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday he would neither defend nor criticize the timing of Comey's disclosure. He also said the president does not believe Comey was trying to influence the election, or strategizing to benefit one candidate or party.
"He's in a tough spot, and he's the one who will be in a position to defend his actions in the face of significant criticism from a variety of legal experts, including individuals who served in senior Department of Justice positions in administrations that were led by presidents in both parties," Earnest said.
It was not immediately clear exactly how many emails have been recovered or what significance, if any, they might have. The FBI, which obtained a warrant and has begun the review, would be focusing on those deemed pertinent to its earlier Clinton email server investigation. It's unclear how many emails might be relevant.