Comey: No such thing as a 'security inquiry' in Clinton email probe
Hillary Clinton and her surrogates have been fanning out across the country telling voters and the press that the FBI investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server is just a routine "security inquiry." Sid Blumenthal is only the latest Clinton lackey to make that claim.
But in an interview with Politico reporters, FBI Director James Comey said he was unaware of anything called a "security inquiry" but he refused to say whether the Clinton investigation was criminal in nature.
"It's in our name. I'm not familiar with the term 'security inquiry,' " Comey said at a roundtable with reporters, according to Politico.
“We’re conducting an investigation ... That’s what we do,” he said, according to Fox News.
Comey reportedly declined to say whether or not the investigation is “criminal” in nature.
The months-long federal probe appears to be entering its final stages, following reports in recent days that a number of Clinton allies have been interviewed. Clinton herself is expected to answer questions from FBI investigators and federal prosecutors in coming days or weeks.
Comey on Wednesday said the investigation is not “tethered to any external deadline,” such as this summer’s Democratic convention.
Still, he said he was under “pressure” to finalize the investigation promptly and efficiently.
"We want to do it well and we want to do it promptly. I feel pressure to do both of those things," Comey said. "As between the two things, we will always choose 'well.' "
Comey’s description of the investigation could frustrate the likely Democratic nominee’s efforts to dismiss concerns about her email arrangement.
The federal investigation into Clinton’s server, and the possibility that classified information may have been mishandled, has magnified criticism about the bespoke email setup.
Her decision to use a private server throughout her time as secretary of State has been a repeated target for Clinton’s Republican critics, and is likely to be hammered once the likely Democratic nominee squares off against presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Clinton’s campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Hill about Comey’s characterization.
The FBI itself has been closely scrutinized throughout the investigation, despite the refusal of Comey, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other top officials to discuss the matter.
The Clinton team is adept at using the English language to obfuscate rather than illuminate. "Security inquiry" sounds so innocent, so routine, when what the FBI is really doing is investigating to see if a crime has been committed. It won't become a criminal investigation until they determine if any laws were broken. They may already done so, but for obvious reasons, are choosing not to go publuc quite yet.
Some experts have speculated that career prosecutors in the Justice Department may already have gone before a grand jury and have begun to present a case. But that would be extraordinarily difficult to keep secret, given the players involved.
Comey says he's under pressure, but he doesn't say from who. If it is self-imposed, he is likely to conclude his investigation before the convention. If the investigation runs into the general election campaign, would Comey announce his findings in such a highly partisan atmosphere? Or would he wait until after the election?
I don't envy Comey's position.