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Democrats go after FBI director Comey at intelligence briefing

By
Doug G. Ware
FBI Director James Comey testifies in July 2016 at a hearing on the bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state. Comey was confronted by frustrated Democrats on Friday during an intelligence briefing, about what they see as his unequal treatment of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
FBI Director James Comey testifies in July 2016 at a hearing on the bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state. Comey was confronted by frustrated Democrats on Friday during an intelligence briefing, about what they see as his unequal treatment of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Congressional Democrats got a chance to vent frustrations toward FBI Director James Comey on Friday, for what they believe has been unequal treatment of President-elect Donald Trump and nominee Hillary Clinton.

The Democrats were part of a briefing Friday into allegations of electoral interference by the Russian government, which Comey has been investigating with other U.S. intelligence officials.

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Clinton's campaign and many Democrats partly blames their election defeat on Comey's surprise development on Oct. 28 that the bureau would look into potential new evidence in the email case, which had been found on a laptop belonging to the husband of a campaign aide.

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The announcement was not welcome news for Clinton's White House bid, and even went against Justice Department tradition. The campaign and others later blamed the move, at least partly, for Clinton's loss to Trump on Nov. 8.

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At the same time, critics say, Comey has remained entirely silent about any potential investigation into Trump's business ties with Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin -- an issue that, like Clinton's, surrounded the billionaire's campaign before the election.

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But the angry Democrats saw it this way -- in Clinton's case Comey acted, in Trump's he didn't.

Those who vented their frustrations to the FBI chief said they feel they can no longer trust him to be impartial.

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"I still hold the opinion that he is a good man, but I question some of his decisions now," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said. "When I left the hearing, I felt a great sense of disappointment."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the former Democratic National Committee chair, particularly "laid into" Comey, sources said -- as did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi -- and accused him of failing to notify them about Russia's alleged hacking of a DNC server.

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"You let us down!" one Democrat yelled to Comey, who was described at Friday's briefing as unflinching and defiant, The Hill reported.

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Comey, a Republican-turned-Independent, was appointed to the top FBI post by President Barack Obama. Last July, he announced that the bureau's investigation turned up no classified information on Clinton's private email server and recommended no charges.

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Thursday, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced that he will conduct an inquiry into the FBI's pre-election activity.

Also present at Friday's briefing were National Intelligence Director James Clapper, CIA director John Brennan and NSA chief Mike Rogers.

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