What the Clinton email investigation means to voters

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, in Las Vegas.  The investigation on Clinton's emails was reopened Friday, Oct. 28. (John Locher/AP)

The Director of the FBI, John Comey, announced the reopening of the investigation regarding Secretary Hillary Clinton’s private email server in a letter on Friday, Oct. 28. The investigation continues because of the discovery of a laptop with 650,000 additional emails delivered either to or from Clinton’s server. This continuation, occurring only eleven days before Election Day, is unprecedented, and Comey has received a lot of criticism for taking this public. It is uncustomary to openly discuss investigations about candidates due to the possibility that it interferes with election results. However, Comey’s actions are commendable, as the public has a right to know the issues and complexities involved with each of the candidates.

This summer, the FBI and the Justice Department kept two investigations out of the public eye. They did not issue subpoenas or take any steps that could involve public attention. The first case involved Trump’s campaign chairman’s business dealings in the Ukraine, and the second dealt with Clinton’s foundation and relationship with donors. It is disappointing and unsettling to discover these matters after the fact because while the investigations were being conducted, voters were analyzing their candidates’ pasts for information on behavior and morals, and these current investigations could have be further considered regarding those matters.

Many politicians have voiced their criticisms concerning Comey’s announcement. The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Harry Reid, wrote that it is possible that Comey broke the law, calling the public announcement a “partisan” action. The senator is referring to the Hatch Act, which prohibits any executive branch positions from influencing the election.

Yet Comey’s announcement is perhaps just a continuation of his actions in July, when he gave a press release, released many documents and went in front of Congress to discuss the findings of the previous investigation into Clinton’s private server. He gave unusual amounts of detail surrounding the case, stating that he did so because he wanted the public to have confidence in the FBI’s investigations. The public reopening of the investigation is a continuation of this transparency. However, Comey receives criticism due also to the lack of details in his letter.  It is possible that the details are simply not there yet or, as signaled by the Justice Department on Monday, the investigation now must follow confidential procedures because of the very recent election. Either way, learning that there is more to the investigation of Clinton’s private server displays a transparency in the government that is important and should also be provided in other cases.

Much of the criticism is due to the possibility that this announcement will affect the results of the election; yet the knowledge of the investigation is even more pertinent at this time. There is a distrust of the government due to Wikileaks, and this transparency counteracts that. The concealment of investigations and possible legal trouble misleads voters as they decide the future leader of the country. A voter has the right to know if a candidate may experience legal issues during his or her presidency, as well as what those possible legal infractions entail. Yet, the postulation that this announcement will change voter’s opinions assumes that the public is unaware of the uncertainties involved with an investigation. Voters are well aware that an investigation is not an arrest warrant, and the announcement will not sway voters who believe Clinton did nothing wrong. The announcement of this investigation only allows citizens to trust their government through its transparency, providing voters with more information to help them cast their vote.

FBI Director John Comey’s actions last Friday were commendable because they put trust in the hands of the citizens, allowing them to make their own informed decisions. This investigation will involve searching through thousands of emails and contacting various intelligence agencies to analyze whether or not they are classified. It will not be resolved until long after the election, but this knowledge helps voters come to a decision and gain trust in the government. It would have been better had the FBI been more forthcoming with other open investigations this summer. Hopefully in the future, the FBI will be more transparent with their investigations, without attack from the public claiming that they are trying to involve themselves in politics.


Alyssa Luis is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at alyssa.luis@uconn.edu.