Months before the election, FBI Director James Comey tried to reveal that Russia was interfering in America’s electoral process in order to help Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton.
A new report in Newsweek revealed that Comey wanted to write an op-ed about the Russian election meddling but was denied by the Obama administration.
More from the report:
Well before the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence accused the Russian government of tampering with the U.S. election in an October 7 statement, Comey pitched the idea of writing an op-ed about the Russian campaign during a meeting in the White House’s situation room in June or July.
“He had a draft of it or an outline. He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward, what do people think of this?’” says a source with knowledge of the meeting, which included Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson and the national security adviser Susan Rice.
The other national security officials didn’t like the idea, and White House officials thought the announcement should be a coordinated message backed by multiple agencies, the source says. “An op-ed doesn’t have the same stature, it comes from one person.”
The op-ed would not have mentioned whether the FBI was investigating Donald Trump’s campaign workers or others close to him for links to the Russians’ interference in the election, a second source with knowledge of the request tells Newsweek. Comey would likely have tried to publish the op-ed in The New York Times, and it would have included much of the same information as the bombshell declassified intelligence report released January 6, which said Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to influence the presidential election, the source said.
It’s not clear why the Obama administration denied Comey’s effort or why Comey himself didn’t seek other avenues to make the information public, but the only major pre-election announcement revealing some information about Russian involvement came on October 7 – too late in the election cycle for it to make much of a difference.
And despite Comey’s reported behind-the-scenes effort to shed light on this scandal, his public behavior put a heavy emphasis on the non-scandal involving Hillary Clinton’s email use as Secretary of State, dealing the former Democratic nominee several blows at pivotal moments during the campaign.
This news also begs the question: If Comey was told he wasn’t allowed to reveal explosive info about a foreign government helping one of the two major presidential candidates get elected, then why did he think it was acceptable to blow smoke about Clinton’s emails so close to voting day?
An op-ed wasn’t a bad idea, but Comey could have also, you know, just approached a podium and given a statement to the public. He had no trouble doing that when it came to Hillary Clinton.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.