Washington: Sacked Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey knew that a critical piece of information related to the investigation into former presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton's email was fake, but he feared that if it became public it would undermine the probe, sources told CNN.
As a result, Comey acted unilaterally in 2016 to publicly declare the investigation over without consulting the then-attorney general Loretta Lynch, while at the same time stating that Clinton had been "extremely careless" in her handling of classified information, the sources said on Friday.
Comey and other Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials actually knew early on that this intelligence was indeed false, CNN reported.
The Russian intelligence at issue purported to show that former attorney general Lynch had been compromised in the Clinton investigation.
The intelligence described emails between then-Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a political operative suggesting that Lynch would make the FBI investigation of Clinton go away.
In classified sessions with members of Congress several months ago, Comey described those emails in the Russian claim and expressed his concern that this Russian information could "drop", and that would undermine the Clinton investigation and the Justice Department in general, according to a government official.
In response, sources close to Comey told CNN that he felt that it did not matter if the information was accurate, because his big fear was that if the Russians released the information publicly, there would be no way for law enforcement and intelligence officials to discredit it without burning intelligence sources and methods.
Multiple American officials have said that to this day Russia is trying to spread false information in the United States in order to "cloud and confuse" ongoing investigations.
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Updated Date: May 27, 2017 09:42:43 IST