Justice Department officials warned FBI Director James Comey that his letter to Congress about newly discovered emails potentially related to an investigation of Hillary Clinton would contradict the department’s long-established election policy, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Mr. Comey acted “independently” when he decided to send the letter, the people said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is reviewing newly obtained emails linked to its previously closed investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified information as secretary of state. Friday’s announcement came just days before voters to go to the polls to choose a new president.
Before the letter was sent, the FBI told senior Justice Department officials what Mr. Comey planned to do, and those officials warned that doing so would contradict the department’s rules against taking steps that could influence—or be seen as trying to influence—an election, these people said.
Mr. Comey, however, decided it was better to share the information rather than face possibly greater criticism for keeping quiet until after the election, according to the people familiar with the discussions. FBI officials were also concerned that if they didn’t act, the information might leak out anyway, in a less controlled manner, these people said.