Hillary Clinton's camp pushed back hard against the FBI's decision to restart its investigation into her use of a private email server 11 days before the election. Part of their pitch: that even some Republicans think FBI Director James B. Comey erred when he told Congress (and the world) about it.
That may be a smart bet for the moment. Comey's GOP critics seem to be piling up by the hour.
On Monday, one of the most conservative members of Congress criticized Comey's timing. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) chairs the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus and has been agitating for Clinton to be investigated for perjury related to her use of a private email server.
But he told told Fox News Radio: "I think this was probably not the right thing for Comey to do — the protocol here — to come out this close to an election, but this whole case has been mishandled, and now it is what it is."
Jordan was the first sitting GOP member of Congress to publicly criticize Comey, a Republican appointed by President Obama. But within minutes, others joined him.
Here are 10 more Republicans defending Clinton from the FBI:
1. Sen. Chuck Grassley: The Iowa senator and chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee wrote to Comey on Monday demanding more details — in writing, by Friday — about the investigation, saying the trickle of information he shared Friday "did not go far enough" and was unfair to Clinton, Congress and Americans.
2. Newt Gingrich: The former House speaker and all-in Trump supporter echoed the Clinton camp's request for the FBI to release more information by saying "John Podesta and Hillary Clinton are right."
3. Alberto Gonzales: The former U.S. attorney general, appointed by Bush, did not exactly criticize Comey in an interview Monday with MSNBC, but he did not defend him, either:
4. Richard Painter: The Clinton supporter and chief ethics lawyer in the Bush White House accused Comey of breaking the law by releasing these emails so close to the election: “I spent much of my career working on government and lawyers’ ethics, including as the chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush,” he wrote in an op-ed Sunday in the New York Times. “I never thought that the F.B.I. could be dragged into a political circus surrounding one of its investigations. Until this week.”
5. George Terwilliger: The deputy attorney general in the Bush administration told the New York Times on Saturday that Comey appeared to violate “a long-standing policy of not doing anything that could influence an election,” adding, “There’s a difference between being independent and flying solo.”
6. John Dean: The White House lawyer under President Richard Nixon wrote in the New York Times on Monday that it is unfair for Trump to compare Clinton to Nixon and Watergate. “Whatever mistakes Mrs. Clinton made, her actions bear no similarities whatsoever to Nixon’s criminalization of his presidency, and his efforts to corrupt much of the executive branch,” he wrote. Dean added, “To compare them to Watergate is more than historical ignorance.”
7. Larry Thompson: The deputy attorney general in the Bush Justice Department is among 100 former Justice Department officials who signed a letter criticizing Comey.
Thompson also wrote in a Saturday Washington Post op-ed with his Bill Clinton administration counterpart, Jamie Gorelick, that Comey is damaging America's democracy: “We now have real-time, raw-take transparency taken to its illogical limit, a kind of reality TV of federal criminal investigation. Perhaps worst of all, it is happening on the eve of a presidential election. It is antithetical to the interests of justice, putting a thumb on the scale of this election and damaging our democracy.”
8. Joe Walsh: The former conservative congressman and controversial conservative radio host (most recently of “If Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket” fame) tweeted this Sunday night:
9. Jeanine Pirro: The former GOP prosecutor and judge and Trump supporter said Saturday on her Fox News show “Justice With Judge Jeanine” that what Comey did “disgraces and politicizes” the FBI: “One of the most revered agencies in our nation's history — now seen as putting its finger on the scales of justice — should not now be front and center.”
10. Former GOP state attorneys general: The Clinton campaign is sharing a letter Monday afternoon signed by 46 of our nation's top law enforcement officials from both parties, declaring Comey's actions "a serious mistake" and "unacceptable and unfair."
As for the rest of Congress — the news did seem to take many by surprise, but most GOP members of Congress have so far given Comey the benefit of the doubt.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), appearing on MSNBC's “Morning Joe,” summed up the way many Hill Republicans felt as the Clinton team's effort to shift the spotlight onto Comey seemed to be meeting with some success:
“Not a single one of the facts at hand is directly attributable to Director Comey. He didn't tell her to set up her own private email server. He did not tell her to mislead the public about whether or not she sent or received classified information. He did not tell Huma Abedin, ‘Hey, don't turn over all your devices.’ And God knows he didn't tell Anthony Weiner to sext with underage girls. The timing is a direct and natural consequence and probable consequence of decisions Secretary Clinton made years ago.”