weather icon Clear

Harry Reid’s letter suggests FBI director may have breached federal law

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Sunday suggested FBI Director James Comey breached federal law by revealing that the bureau was reviewing new emails possibly relevant to the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Comey said Friday that the bureau discovered the emails in an unrelated case — an investigation of illicit text messages from Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. The discovery, Comey said, prompted the bureau to revisit its previously closed investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

In an open letter sent to news organizations, Reid, D-Nev., suggested that Comey had handled sensitive information insensitively with “what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another.”

“I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election,” Reid wrote.

Reid also suggested what Comey found may be irrelevant to the bureau’s investigation.

“For all you know,” he wrote, “the information you possess could be entirely duplicative of the information you already examined which exonerated Secretary Clinton.”

Meanwhile, Reid accused Comey of failing to release “explosive information” about ties between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, his aides and the Russian government, which he called “a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States.” Reid didn’t detail the information.

The Obama administration has accused Russia of hacking the computers of U.S. political groups, particularly the Democratic National Committee.

Former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter wrote in a New York Times op-ed Sunday that he filed a Hatch Act complaint with the Office of Special Counsel and Office of Government Ethics. Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, was chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House from 2005 to 2007.

But Georgetown University law professor David Vladeck told The Washington Post he didn’t think Comey had violated the Hatch Act.

“I do not think he has committed a crime,” he told the Post, referring to the latest email investigation. “(But) I do think he has abused his office.”

Reid’s action prompted rebukes from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. and U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.

“Harry Reid is a disgrace to American politics, among worst men ever in Senate,” Cotton tweeted. “He can’t go soon enough, &many Democrats privately agree.”

Gowdy, in an interview on Fox News, said of Reid, “Thank God he’s leaving.”

Contact Matthew Crowley at mcrowley@reviewjournal.com. Follow @copyjockey on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - VIDEO
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - VIDEO
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
White House budget official offers impeachment testimony

House impeachment investigators met in private Saturday with a White House budget official as the historic inquiry produces new testimony.