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Schumer-Long Debate Focuses On FBI Director's Actions

Nathaniel Brooks
The New York Times via AP
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., left, listens to nominee for U.S. Senator of New York, Wendy Long, R-N.Y., speak during a debate at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., on Sunday.

New York’s senior Senator Charles Schumer, in the only debate with his opponent, attorney Wendy Long,  says he’s “appalled” by FBI Director James Comey’s actions, including the decision announced Friday to reexamine emails from Hillary Clinton’s top aide for evidence of misuse of classified materials.

Schumer says he knows Comey and has worked with him in the past.

“And that’s why what makes what he did all the more surprising and appalling,” said Schumer, who said Comey broke with the longstanding tradition of prosecutors not giving “even the appearance of interfering with an election.”

Schumer says Comey’s issuance of a search warrant to look at Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s emails Sunday only shows that the FBI director does not have solid evidence that there was anything amiss in the messages. Abedin is the estranged wife of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is under criminal investigation for allegedly sexting a minor.

The incumbent Democratic senator joined other top Democrats in demanding that Comey make the emails public.

“He owes not only Secretary Clinton but the American people an explanation,” Schumer said.

Schumer would not comment on Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s contention that Comey might have violated the Hatch Act, or whether Comey should step down, but says that he has a big “burden of proof” to explain his actions.

Schumer’s Republican opponent, Wendy Long, also criticized Comey, saying “much has gone wrong from a prosecutorial standpoint,” and that she disagreed with Comey’s decision in July. Comey on July 5 recommended that Clinton not be prosecuted for what the FBI director called her “extremely careless” handling of classified information. But Long ultimately blames Hillary Clinton for the troubles.

“It would be one thing if Hillary Clinton had just come forward in the first place and given all of the evidence that she was required to,” Long said. “We are in this mess because she failed to do that.”

But Long says once Comey found what might be new evidence, he had a right to pursue it.

Long said afterward that she doesn’t know if the Comey controversy will help or hurt the top of the GOP presidential ticket, Donald Trump.

“This goes beyond politics,” said Long who said it makes her “physically ill” to think that the nation’s laws and justice system are being “manipulated” for political purposes.

“Because that’s not America,” Long said.

Long trails Schumer by nearly 40 points in the polls. The event also covered the candidate’s views on appointments to the Supreme Court, the Iran deal and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.  

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.