James Comey, who had alerted Congress about possible additional Clinton emails, says FBI "needs to protect people's privacy"

"We needed to make sure we don’t get other people clues as to where we are going," Comey says

Matthew Rozsa
March 20, 2017 9:06PM (UTC)

In his congressional testimony on Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that there was an ongoing investigation into connections between President Donald Trump's campaign and the Russian government.

He refused to provide a lot of details about the investigation, in contrast to his decision last year to publicize that he was revisiting Hillary Clinton's email scandal because of new material that proved to be meaningless.


"Some folks made one of a comparisons to past instances where the Justice Department and the F.B.I. [have] spoken about the details of some investigations," Comey said. "Please keep in mind that those involved . . . the details of completed investigations. Our ability to share details with Congress and the American people is limited when those investigations are still open, which I hope makes sense. We need to protect people’s privacy. We needed to make sure we don’t [give] other people clues as to where we are going."

Brian Fallon, a former Clinton staffer, noted the irony. "In refusing to discuss an ongoing investigation, Director Comey is appropriately adhering to the Justice Department’s standards," Fallon told The New York Times. "The question he has never satisfactorily answered is why he deviated from those standards so egregiously in Hillary Clinton’s case."

Just weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8, Comey sent a public letter to Congress, alerting leaders that the FBI may have found additional emails that could be related to the closed investigation of Clinton's private email server. That letter, according to former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Vox.com, changed the minds of enough voters to swing the election in three key states from Clinton to Trump.


It's also worth noting that Trump is taking a keen interest in this week's hearings in Congress, going so far as to tweet Comey's statement from his official presidential Twitter account.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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2016 Elections Donald Trump Fbi James Comey Russia

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