Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey on Sunday charging that Comey may have violated a federal law that bars federal officials from using their authority to influence an election.
Reid, D-Nev., clearly implied that Comey is trying to help Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton.
"Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another," Reid wrote. "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. Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law."
The FBI had no immediate response.
Reid told Comey that he has shown a double standard by revealing information about an ongoing review of emails that may be tied to the investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server but refusing to release information about Trump's ties to the Russian government.
"In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity," Reid wrote. "The public has a right to know this information... And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public."
By contrast, Reid wrote, "as soon as you came into possession of the slightest innuendo related to Secretary Clinton, you rushed to publicize it in the most negative light possible."
Comey sent a letter to congressional leaders on Friday announcing that newly discovered emails were being reviewed in connection with the investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. The emails were found during a separate investigation of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide and adviser. Weiner is alleged to have had sexually explicit communications with a 15-year-old girl.
Reid said Comey is "tarring Secretary Clinton with thin innuendo" and, in the process, overruling "longstanding tradition and the explicit guidance of your own (Justice) Department." Attorney General Loretta Lynch disagreed with Comey telling Congress about the latest email review.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., replied to Reid's assertions by tweeting: "Harry Reid is a disgrace to American politics, among worst men ever in Senate. He can't go soon enough, and many Democrats privately agree."
But Reid was not alone in his assessment. Former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano on Sunday rebuked Comey for what she called his "inexplicable" decision, minutes before rallying campaign workers at the Arizona Democratic Party's headquarters in Phoenix.
Napolitano, a former U.S. attorney, Arizona attorney general and U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, told The Arizona Republic: "It's ... totally outside Department of Justice policy. And I think sending a memo that raises innuendo, without any questions answered, is not what the FBI or the FBI director should be doing."
More importantly, this close to an election, announcing "something like this where you don't even have the ability to examine what it is that you think you have is, for obvious reasons, not good policy and not what the FBI should be doing," she said.
Contributing: Dan Nowicki, The Arizona Republic
Harry Reid is a disgrace to American politics, among worst men ever in Senate. He can't go soon enough, & many Democrats privately agree. https://t.co/4lCKx5pKi4— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) October 30, 2016