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Kaine: Comey Letter ‘Extremely Puzzling’

Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” while discussing the FBI reopening the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private unsecured email server during her tenure as secretary of state, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) called the action “extremely puzzling.”

Partial transcript as follows:

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, thank you both. Let’s bring this now to Hillary Clinton’s runningmate Senator Tim Kaine. He joins us now from Richmond, Virginia. Senator, Kaine, thank you for joining us this morning. Let’s begin with Donald Trump. He has pounced on this news. He calls this the worst scandal since Watergate and Hillary has no one but herself to blame.

SEN. TIM KAINE, (D-VA) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, look, he’s also made all kinds of wild claims that just aren’t true, like the investigation is being reopened. That’s not true. He’s making claims about these activities that have been debunked by the FBI, when the FBI reached their conclusion three months ago, that no reasonable prosecutor — no reasonable prosecutor — would move forward on this case. Director Comey was asked about the conclusion which was an unequivocal and he said he wasn’t close to reach that conclusion. And we expect that the final conclusion’s going to be exactly the same.  Now this is an unprecedented move, as your folks were describing earlier, because it happens close to an election. which is in violation of normal Justice Department protocol and it involves talking about an ongoing investigation, which also violates the protocol. And as far as we know now, Director Comey knows nothing about the content of these e-mails. We don’t know whether they’re to or from Hillary at all. And so this is a distraction.  But look, we’re focused on winning this race over the next nine days, talking about the kind of president that Hillary will — Clinton will be and contrasting her stronger together vision —

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what more —

KAINE: — with the dark and dangerous vision of Donald Trump.

STEPHANOPOULOS: — but what more do we know about the e-mails? What has Huma told the campaign? A source close to the investigation told me this morning that this was Anthony Weiner’s computer, according to her, not her computer and that the first she heard about these e-mails was on Friday when the news broke.  What has she told the campaign? What do you think is there?

KAINE: Well, listen, I’m not going to speculate because the FBI director doesn’t know. I mean, he had to issue a second letter internally within the FBI to, frankly, back up because the first letter created so many misimpressions. But I think it’s now pretty clear that the FBI director doesn’t know that there is anything — these could be duplicates of what’s already been analyzed. They could be things that don’t have anything to do with Hillary Clinton.  We can’t speculate about it. That’s why we’re asking the FBI director, OK, you violated these two protocols, if you put out kind of a letter and then had to do a second letter to kind of backtrack, you owe the public full information. That’s what Hillary Clinton wants and that’s what the American public deserves.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what exactly what you want him to do right now? What exactly do you want him to release?

KAINE: Well, I think he should release — if he hasn’t seen the e-mails, I mean, they need to make that completely plain. Then they should work to see the emails and release the circumstances of those once they have done that analysis. That’s what Hillary said immediately when she spoke to the press on Friday.  She said, look, you can’t break both of these protocols and then leave it just kind of up in the air with a question mark. You owe people the complete information. Hillary cooperated with the FBI in this investigation. The FBI reached a rock-solid conclusion, that there was no need to take it forward. No reasonable prosecutor would do it. And so to the extent that now there’s a question mark, what needs to happen is the FBI director needs to give more information.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if you don’t know what’s in the e-mails, how can you be so sure that it’s not going to change his conclusions?

KAINE: Because of the unequivocal nature of the conclusion. This was a lengthy investigation, George, a very long and very elaborate investigation, not a slapdash one, not a short one. And the conclusion they reached, as Director Comey said to Congress, was not even close. And that conclusion was very unequivocal.  No reasonable prosecutor would do anything about it. So when Donald Trump is going around making these wild claims about trying to jail his political opponent and all of this stuff, he’s just making this up. He doesn’t get to decide what the laws of the country are. And so, look, this is a distraction in the last nine days. But we’re happy that, this weekend, we have had 50,000 volunteers working yesterday. We see very strong trends in early voting, especially in states like Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, where we have good data. And we’re not going to be distracted by this. We’re going to power forward to make our case about why Hillary’s going to be the next president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, a lot of Democrats are incensed by James Comey’s actions. Dianne Feinstein, senator Dianne Feinstein, called his actions appalling. Howard Dean, former Democratic candidate for president, says, quote, “He may have destroyed the creditability of the FBI forever. Put himself on the same side as Putin.”  Do you agree with that?

KAINE: You know, I — what I — what I said when I was — when I talked about this Friday, was just it’s just extremely puzzling.  Why would you break these two protocols? Why would you release information that is so incomplete — when you haven’t even seen the material yourself — 11 days before an election?  Why would you talk about an ongoing investigation? I have — I just have no way of understanding these actions. They’re completely unprecedented and that’s why I think he owes the American public more information.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But in the past, you’ve had great praise for him, Director Comey. You called him a wonderful and tough career public servant. Do you still believe that —

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: That’s what makes this — that’s what makes this so hard to understand, George. It really does.  I worked with Jim Comey when he was in the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney’s office and I was mayor here. That’s what makes this so completely puzzling. They did a very thorough investigation of this matter and they weren’t releasing tentative conclusions along the way.  They waited until they got to the end of it and then he gave a very unequivocal finding. And so why he would release this sort of tentative letter and then have to back up on it within 24 hours, when he haven’t even — hadn’t even seen the e-mails himself, I just cannot understand it.

(h/t Politico)

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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