Oct. 30, 2016
Julian Zelizer wrote for CNN about the GOP’s “smoking gun” in 1992.
Democrats are up in arms about FBI Director James Comey's letter to Congress revealing that he is looking into more emails related to Hillary Clinton. Although the contents of those emails remain a mystery and at this point no evidence indicates new material, news of the letter created an uproar in the final days of the 2016 campaign. Members of Clinton's team have spent the entire weekend scrambling to respond. They have focused on painting Comey -- whom they had praised when he ended the investigation in July -- as a rogue or partisan official undermining a fair election.
Donald Trump and most Republicans are affirming Comey, only weeks after they condemned him for letting Clinton off the hook. What's more, with Trump blitzing the airwaves with speeches about Clinton's corruption, he and the Republicans have found common ground -- previously in short supply -- in claiming that the FBI director did his job, safeguarding the integrity of his agency. Despite reports that Attorney General Loretta Lynch disagreed with his decision, Comey's supporters insist that he had no choice: If he didn't send the letter to Congress and this part of the investigation was leaked, he would be accused of a cover-up.
This isn't the first time late-breaking news about an investigation came right toward the end of a presidential campaign. Another October surprise emerged in the 1992 race, and Republicans were the ones complaining. Their candidate, President George H.W. Bush, was implicated in an investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal when a memo surfaced on October 30, 1992.