Hillary Clinton
Hillary ClintonReuters

Last November, many Democrats blamed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat on FBI chief James Comey’s October 28th announcement that thousands of Clinton emails tied to a private server she used during her tenure as Secretary of State had been discovered the day before on Anthony Weiner’s laptop, a device he shared with his wife, then-Clinton confidant Huma Abedin.

Clinton’s supporters cried foul, claiming the disclosure of the discovery 11 days before the election unfairly harmed the Democratic nominee.

But according to transcripts from the Office of Special Counsel, Comey appears to have made the decision to exonerate Mrs. Clinton even before the investigation had been completed, with key sources yet to be interviewed, two senior Republican senators claim.

In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham charge that Wray’s predecessor, Comey, penned his famous July 5th announcement clearing Clinton of criminal wrong-doing months before the bureau had completed the investigation.

“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 wrote.

“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.”

FBI transcripts, they say, “indicate that Comey began drafting a statement to announce the conclusion of the Clinton email investigation”, noting that 17 “key witnesses” had yet to be interviewed at the time Comey began drafting the speech exonerating Clinton.

Previously, Comey’s decision to exonerate Clinton drew criticism for an improper meeting with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton in a private jet on the tarmac of an Arizona airport.

The three discussed the FBI’s ongoing investigation of Clinton, Comey acknowledged, with the AG urging Comey not to publicly refer to the Clinton probe as an investigation, but rather a “matter”.

"The Attorney General directed me not to call it an investigation and call it a matter—which confused me," Comey said.