The likes of Newt Gingrich may be exulting, but Larry Thompson, U.S. deputy attorney general from 2001 to 2003 under George W. Bush, thinks FBI Director James B. Comey has put “a thumb on the scale of this election” by serving notice that investigators have found a trove of emails – the contents of which are unknown – on a laptop used by former congressman Anthony Wiener and his estranged wife, Clinton confidante Huma Abedin.
Thompson, a Georgian, is the Republican half of a double-byline op-ed in today’s Washington Post, which includes this:
Decades ago, the department decided that in the 60-day period before an election, the balance should be struck against even returning indictments involving individuals running for office, as well as against the disclosure of any investigative steps.
The reasoning was that, however important it might be for Justice to do its job, and however important it might be for the public to know what Justice knows, because such allegations could not be adjudicated, such actions or disclosures risked undermining the political process. A memorandum reflecting this choice has been issued every four years by multiple attorneys general for a very long time, including in 2016.
FYI, Thompson is one of several former Justice Department officials in Republican administrations who have signed a letter calling for Donald Trump’s defeat.