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As Clinton Camp Denied Stories of Legal Inquiry, F.B.I. Was Investigating, Comey Says


WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, the previous F.B.I. director, confirms in his new e-book that the bureau had already begun a felony investigation centered on Hillary Clinton’s dealing with of her electronic mail in 2015 when her marketing campaign and its allies excoriated journalists for reporting that such an inquiry was being contemplated.

The New York Occasions reported in July 2015 that two inspectors basic had made a felony referral to the Justice Division recommending an investigation into whether or not Mrs. Clinton had mishandled delicate data through the use of a personal electronic mail server as secretary of state. Mrs. Clinton’s marketing campaign complained vigorously to The Occasions, leading to two corrections to the article.

The corrections stated that the inspectors basic had made a “safety referral” fairly than a “felony referral” and that the referral didn’t request that Mrs. Clinton particularly be investigated. Mrs. Clinton’s marketing campaign referred to as the article an “faulty story” with “egregious” errors that misled voters into pondering that she was susceptible to being investigated by the F.B.I. for attainable felony violations when the referral was a extra routine safety matter not centered on her specifically. Critics of the information media, together with the general public editor of The Occasions, agreed.

However in “A Increased Loyalty: Fact, Lies, and Management,” his memoir that’s scheduled for launch subsequent week, Mr. Comey stated the word-parsing by Mrs. Clinton’s marketing campaign and the Justice Division was truly deceptive as a result of the F.B.I. was already conducting a felony investigation centered on Mrs. Clinton by that time.

“Although The Occasions could have thought these clarifications have been essential, their unique story was a lot nearer to the mark,” Mr. Comey wrote. “It was true that the transmission to the F.B.I. from the inspector basic didn’t use the phrase ‘felony,’ however by the point of the information story, we had a full felony investigation open, centered on the secretary’s conduct.”

Mr. Comey stated the F.B.I. didn’t contradict the Clinton marketing campaign on the time as a result of it was not but applicable to publicly verify an investigation. “Nonetheless, the bitterly fought episode, parsing phrase selections, was solely a small style of what was to return, and lots of inside the F.B.I. knew it,” he wrote.

For the Clinton marketing campaign, minimizing the importance of the inquiry was necessary to stop it from changing into an even bigger political legal responsibility as she headed into the Democratic major season. Certainly, when Mr. Comey was prepared in October 2015 to publicly verify the investigation, Loretta E. Lynch, President Barack Obama’s legal professional basic, instructed him to name it a “matter” as an alternative. Ms. Lynch, he wrote, “appeared to be directing me to align with that Clinton marketing campaign technique.”

Jennifer Palmieri, who was Mrs. Clinton’s communications director and signed the marketing campaign’s almost 2,000-word criticism of the Occasions report, stated on Friday that she and the opposite advisers didn’t know on the time of the July 2015 article that their candidate was below felony investigation.

Pushing again in opposition to the Occasions report was a politically good — and, she famous, efficient — transfer by the marketing campaign. She stated she was “stunned” when the felony investigation was later made public that The Occasions didn’t make an even bigger deal of the truth that the paper had been proper.

Requested to touch upon Friday, Dean Baquet, the manager editor of The Occasions, stated, “Mr. Comey’s account speaks for itself.”

Mr. Comey’s dealing with of the e-mail inquiry has lengthy been controversial. After a yr of investigating, Mr. Comey concluded that no felony fees have been warranted in opposition to Mrs. Clinton, however he publicly criticized her for being “extraordinarily careless” in dealing with delicate data.

Three months later, shortly earlier than the 2016 election, Mr. Comey introduced that hundreds of messages related to the inquiry had been found on the laptop computer of the estranged husband of considered one of Mrs. Clinton’s closest advisers. Per week later, simply two days earlier than the election, Mr. Comey introduced overview of the emails had turned up no proof to vary his unique conclusion.

Mrs. Clinton and her allies have lengthy blamed Mr. Comey’s public announcement for shifting the momentum of the marketing campaign in its remaining days, resulting in the election of Donald J. Trump, the Republican candidate. In a e-book of her personal final yr, Mrs. Clinton stated that Mr. Comey had “shivved” her.

Mr. Trump finally fired Mr. Comey as F.B.I. director in Might 2017 whereas Mr. Comey was overseeing an investigation into Russia’s interference within the 2016 marketing campaign and whether or not there was collaboration with Mr. Trump’s marketing campaign.

Mr. Trump initially cited a memo faulting Mr. Comey’s dealing with of Mrs. Clinton’s case in phrases much like criticisms lodged by Democrats, however later acknowledged that he was enthusiastic about the Russia inquiry when he made the choice. He has since accused Mr. Comey of going too simple on Mrs. Clinton and has pressed the Justice Division to reopen the investigation into her emails.

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