James Comey's opaque Clinton letter risks becoming a fiasco

James Comey has landed himself in an awkward situation. Credit: Reuters

James Comey, the Director of the FBI, is this morning under attack from all sides. And he has no-one to blame but himself.

America's top cop has inserted himself in the most dramatic and unexpected way into the highest-stakes election of our lifetime. The result is the political equivalent of an unguided missile.

On Friday, Comey wrote a short, opaque letter to Congress. It was a bombshell: He was, in effect, reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails as millions of early voters flock to the polls to cast their ballots.

It has placed a dark cloud of suspicion over Mrs Clinton. She can't fight back, or address the swirling rumours, because she - like the rest of America - has no idea what the FBI has discovered.

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So let's be clear what this means. After a two year campaign which was meant to test the candidates almost to destruction, Americans have a massive unanswered question about the integrity of one of the candidates. In fact, about them both.

Could the FBI have stumbled on a massive, disqualifying revelation that ends Mrs Clinton's White House ambitions?

Or might it be nothing at all - merely a procedural discovery?

Shockingly, we have no idea; indeed, we almost certainly won't have until long after Election Day.

The head of the Clinton campaign, John Podesta, put it this way:

"Director Comey wrote a letter that was light on facts, heavy on innuendo, knowing full well what Republicans in Congress would do with it. ...We're calling on him to come forward and give those answers to the American public."

If Clinton narrowly loses the election, and it emerges there was nothing of significance in the new emails, imagine the outrage.

If Clinton wins and it emerges she was guilty of a criminal activity in her handling of classified information, imagine the constitutional crisis.

Clinton has asked for Mr Comey to explain himself. Credit: Reuters

Worse still, there are reports today the FBI itself has no idea what the many of the new emails contain. It's claimed that a judge has not given the FBI a warrant to read them.

So even as Mrs Clinton demands that Comey explains himself - fearing Trump now has been given ammunition that could change the outcome - the FBI Director might himself be in the dark.

And that would amount to more than a fiasco. It would be a disgrace.

Americans are going to the polls across this great country wondering if one candidate is guilty of sexual assault, and debating whether the other is guilty of some unknown criminal conduct.

That is, quite simply, an absurd situation.

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