(WASHINGTON) — The White House says it will remain neutral regarding the reopening of an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server, after the discovery of more emails that FBI Director James Comey said may be relevant.
After a letter from Comey to Congress on Friday, which stated that new emails found on a laptop used by Clinton aide Huma Abedin “appear to be pertinent to our investigation,” members of both parties have criticized the timing of the move.
On Monday, the White House declined to state an opinion on Comey’s action.
“I’ll neither defend nor criticize what Director Comey has decided to communicate to the public about this investigation,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in Monday’s press briefing.
In an effort to stay neutral on the topic, Earnest said, the White House will continue to be “scrupulous” in “avoiding even the appearance of political interference” in the investigation entrusted to the Department of Justice and the FBI.
He also said that President Barack Obama doesn’t think Comey is trying to sway the presidential race.
“The president doesn’t believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election,” he said. “The president doesn’t believe that he’s secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party.”
And though he would not weigh in on Comey’s letter, Earnest said Obama maintains a high opinion of Comey and has confidence in his ability to do his job.
“Director Comey is a man of integrity, he’s a man of principle, and he’s a man of good character,” Earnest said.
The latest revelations about Clinton’s emails come as Obama prepares to undertake a vigorous campaign schedule in support of her. Earnest said he would not expect “a dramatic change” in the president’s pitch for her but noted that even before Friday’s letter, Obama wasn’t spending a lot of time dwelling on the email matter. Earnest added that Obama’s confidence in Clinton and her qualifications to succeed him in the Oval Office remain unchanged.
Earnest said he believes Clinton’s critics are trying to capitalize on the letter “to promote controversy.”
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