Did former president Barack Obama mislead the American people when he stated, in the heat of the Clinton email scandal, that he does not involve himself in pending investigations “conducted by the Justice Department, or the FBI … in any case”?
New information released Wednesday concerning texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page appears to counter the narrative put forward by the former president. The texts — which have already unearthed several scandalous revelations about FBI officials’ roles in investigating Hillary Clinton — included a conversation a Senate report claims was about President Obama’s role in the Clinton email scandal and investigation.
In September 2016, Page wrote to Strzok about briefing former FBI Director James Comey on the Clinton email investigation, because “potus wants to know everything we’re doing,” Fox News reported.
Yet just five months earlier, then-President Obama stated adamantly that he would not be participating in the Clinton investigation, because it would violate his supposed impartiality.
“I do not talk to the attorney general about pending investigations. I do not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations. We have a strict line, and always have maintained it,” Obama said.
“I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department, or the FBI, not just in this case, but in any case,” he added.
However, in the same interview, Obama said with complete certainty he was confident that Hillary Clinton “has not jeopardized national security.”
“This is somebody who has served her country for four years as secretary of state, and did an outstanding job. And no one has suggested that in some ways, as a consequence of how she’s handled e-mails, that that detracted from her excellent ability to carry out her duties.”
• “I do not talk to the attorney general about pending investigations.”
• “I do not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations.”
• “I guarantee there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department or the FBI.”
• “I guarantee it.” pic.twitter.com/tbDs1PC0E9
— 𝒄𝒉𝒊𝒍𝒍 (@chiIIum) February 7, 2018
So did Obama really absent himself from the Hillary Clinton email investigation (which ended without any charges filed against her), or was he always managing the Justice Department’s inquiry behind the scenes?
For his part, President Trump responded on Twitter to the newly released texts, describing them as “bombshells.”
NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2018
Update: The Wall Street Journal reports that according to unnamed “associates” of Strzok and Page, the texts are in reference to an investigation of Russian interference in American politics. This contrasts with Fox News’ report linking the exchange to Obama’s alleged involvement in the Clinton email investigation.