Is James Comey Republican or Democrat? What to know about FBI director amid Clinton probe.

Source: AP
Source: AP

On Friday, FBI director James Comey made a decision that will forever shape our memory of the 2016 presidential election. Just 11 days before Election Day, Comey penned what can only be termed a vague letter to members of Congress, informing them that the FBI would reopen its probe into Hillary Clinton's email servers after the bureau learned "of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation."

Why is the FBI reopening its probe into Hillary Clinton's email servers?

Though Comey has said before that Clinton's FBI investigation had been conducted by people "who didn't give a hoot about politics" — himself included — Comey's move certainly isn't without its political implications. Even when, in July, the FBI closed the year-long case with the official verdict that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring criminal charges against Clinton, opponent Donald Trump and his supporters continued to use the fact of the investigation as a way to portray Clinton as dishonest and untrustworthy.

Since Comey's Friday announcement came with little explanation and objectively terrible timing for Clinton, reopening the probe seems to be intended first and foremost to accomplish the same goal. 

So it makes sense to wonder — is Comey trying to fell the Clinton campaign? 

Hillary Clinton with senior aide Huma Abedin
Source: 
Andrew Harnik/AP

Is James Comey a Republican?

When testifying for the email investigation in July, Comey told Rep. Gerry Connolly (D. Va.), who'd asked if he was a Republican, "I have been a registered Republican for most of my adult life, not registered any longer."But despite any official party affiliations, there's plenty of evidence to suggest Comey's political allegiances have been somewhat scattered over the course of his career in Washington.

According to CNN, Comey investigated the Clintons twice before in the 1990s, related to an alleged fraudulent Arkansas real estate venture and later Bill Clinton's pardoning of hedge fund manager Marc Rich. When he served as a deputy U.S. attorney general under George W. Bush, he testified to a "dramatic standoff" with the administration when he vehemently opposed a federal surveillance program. In the years following, Comey donated to the John McCain and Mitt Romney presidential campaigns

Many outlets have flat-out called Comey an "actual Republican" or at least labeled him, against his repeated insistence otherwise, "very political." And in the wake of his latest loaded decision, Senate democratic leader Harry Reid called for Comey's resignation, writing in a letter that Comey may have broken the Hatch Act — a law prohibiting FBI officials from using their power to sway an election — by notifying the public of the renewed investigation so close to Election Day.

Reid wrote to Comey, "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."

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Marie Solis

Marie is a Slay staff writer with focuses in culture and class. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

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