In an exclusive interview with Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas chief executive said the FBI’s new inquiry into a top Hillary Clinton aide’s emails is a “significant” development and needed to be disclosed before Election Day.
On Friday, FBI director James Comey released a letter to Congressional leaders that said he was “writing to supplement” his previous testimony on the investigation of Democratic Presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server.
“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” he said. Comey said the FBI would examine the emails to determine if they contain classified information.
“Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony,” Comey said in the letter.
Gov. Hutchinson, who will appear on Talk Business & Politics on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on KATV Ch. 7 and 10 a.m. on KAIT-NBC, said the matter is serious despite the political optics.
“Any time the director of the FBI issues a letter within two weeks of a general election, it indicates that he doesn’t want to be found having this after election, disclosing it publicly, and so he discloses it now,” said Hutchinson, a former Congressman, U.S. Attorney, and national law enforcement executive.
“As to the significance of it, it is significant in terms of the fact there was a closed investigation and now it appears to be opening or at least the door appears to be cracking to it. They have other matters to review. And even though it may not go anywhere from a different conclusion, it was significant enough he felt like he needed to disclose it to the American people,” Hutchinson, who supports GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump, added.
Additional reporting after the release of Comey’s letter suggested that the emails in question belong to Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, whose estranged husband former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-New York, is being investigated for exchanging messages of a sexual nature with an underage girl.
According to FBI sources speaking anonymously to the media, the Abedin emails may be in the thousands, may or may not be duplicative of previous emails and may or may not contain classified information. Reports suggest that the FBI could take months to pore through the data to verify its relevance.
Comey is taking heat from Democrats who earlier praised his handling of the Clinton email server situation when he concluded that “evidence of potential violations” existed in the handling of classified information, but “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” against Clinton. Republicans, who scorned Comey’s July conclusion, praised his latest communique and action.
Hutchinson said the debate about the new emails could be a factor in the Presidential election even though early voting is well underway.
“If it’s a close election, it will, or it could,” Hutchinson said. “There’s a lot of people left to vote and any information that comes down has a way of swaying voters. So there could be developments that come out the next couple of weeks on either side.”
In the TB&P interview, Hutchinson also discusses his trade trip to China, tax cuts, the private option, and his interest in exploring new uses for War Memorial Stadium.