Former FBI Director, James Comey appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Office Building on Thursday June 08, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Photograph by Matt McClain—Getty/The Washington Post
September 1, 2017 11:27 AM EDT

President Trump claimed Friday that former FBI Director James Comey “exonerated” Hillary Clinton before finishing his investigation into her email server, one day after senior members of Congress came to that conclusion.

“Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over…and so much more,” the president tweeted. “A rigged system!”

His statement came after Republican senators Chuck Grassley from Iowa and Lindsey Graham from South Carolina sent a letter to current FBI chief Christopher Wray asking for additional materials on Comey, after they determined he began drafting a statement clearing Clinton before his investigation had concluded.

“According to the unredacted portions of the transcripts, it appears that in April or early May of 2016, Mr. Comey had already decided he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton,” the senators, both members of the Judiciary Committee, wrote. (Grassley is chairman of the committee.) “That was long before FBI agents finished their work. Mr. Comey even circulated an early draft statement to select members of senior FBI leadership. The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts… Conclusion first, fact-gathering second—that’s no way to run an investigation. The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy.”

In July 2016, in the height of the presidential campaign, Comey publicly recommended that no charges be brought against Clinton for her use of a private email server and account while she served as Secretary of State. Trump then fired Comey as FBI director in May 2017.

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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@time.com.

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