Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine called the FBI director's announcement 11 days before the election of a review of new emails in the Hillary Clinton email investigation "extremely puzzling" and a "distraction."
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In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Kaine said FBI Director James Comey's announcement of the review was a breach of Justice Department protocol. Comey sent a letter to congressional leaders on Friday announcing that newly-discovered emails were being reviewed in connection with the investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state. The emails were found during a separate investigation of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide and adviser.
"It is just extremely puzzling,” Kaine said on "This Week." “Why would you release information that is so incomplete when you haven’t even seen the material yourself? Eleven days before an election, why would you talk about an ongoing investigation? I just have no way of understanding these actions. They’re completely unprecedented. And that’s why I think [Comey] owes the American public more information.”
"Now this is an unprecedented move, as your folks were describing earlier, because it happens close to an election, which is in violation of normal Justice Department protocol and it involves talking about an ongoing investigation which also violates the protocol and as far as we know now, Director Comey knows nothing about the content of these emails. We don’t know whether they’re to or from Hillary at all," Kaine added.
"And so this is a distraction, but look, we’re focused on winning this race over the next nine days," he said.
The vice presidential nominee would not speculate on the contents of the newly-discovered emails and called on Comey to give a fuller account.
"These could be duplicates of what’s already been analyzed. They could be things that don’t have anything to do with Hillary Clinton. We can’t speculate about it," Kaine said.
He called on Comey to give a fuller account.
"If he hasn’t seen the emails, they need to make that completely plain. Then they should work to see the emails and release the circumstances of those once they have done that analysis.”
When asked if Comey decided to release the letter to avoid criticism, Kaine fired back.
"George, the issue for the FBI director is not whether somebody would criticize him,” Kaine said. "You know, criticism comes with the territory, but you can't tack and move one direction or the next to avoid criticism.
Following established protocols and rules is what you would expect from a chief law enforcement official.”
Kaine argued that the questions about Clinton’s emails will not hurt her on Election Day. He referenced ABC News’ latest tracking poll.
“The folks who are concerned about it are folks who were not voting for Hillary Clinton anyway. And more than 60 percent of the folks that you guys polled said this is not a story that concerns them,” Kaine said.
Kaine defended Clinton’s handling of the investigation and jabbed at her opponent Donald Trump.
"She's also said something that you never hear Donald Trump say: 'I take responsibility for it. I apologize for it. And I'll do differently going forward.’” Kaine said.