Editorials

Comey drops Hillary Clinton email bombshell; so tell us more

The Observer editorial board

FBI Director James Comey owes voters more information.
FBI Director James Comey owes voters more information. AP

What is a voter to make of the revelation Friday that the FBI has reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails? It’s impossible to say, and that is the problem.

FBI Director James Comey dropped a bombshell just 11 days before the election, telling congressional committee chairmen that the FBI has discovered new emails that may be pertinent to its probe, which it closed nearly four months ago.

Certainly the FBI has a duty to pursue any new leads it receives. And Comey may have had an obligation to notify Congress of this development, given that he testified this summer that the case was closed.

But it is extraordinary for such volatile information to emerge so close to Election Day and that’s especially true given how few specifics are known. Because Comey was so vague, voters can’t know what to think. The new emails could be anything from meaningless to evidence of criminal activity by Clinton to most anything in between.

Comey said the FBI had not yet assessed the new emails’ importance, said he does not yet know if they contain “significant” information, did not indicate if they include emails sent by Clinton and gave no indication how long it would take to reach any certainty.a take or leave thought.

Partisans on each side will assume the worst or the best, but until Comey provides more information it’s impossible to know.

So the FBI director has introduced an ominous cloud over the election at the last moment with little explanation. Millions of people have already voted and millions more plan to vote in coming days. It is incumbent upon Comey to provide more information as soon as possible so voters can make an informed decision.

Comey said in July that while Clinton had been “extremely careless” with her email arrangement, no reasonable prosecutor would have brought charges in the case and that it wasn’t even a close call.

Now, at the 11th hour, he reopens the case. Voters deserve more information, and quickly.

  Comments