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Obama weighs in on FBI's Clinton probe: "We don't operate on leaks"

President Obama discussed the latest controversy stemming from the FBI’s disclosures in the ongoing investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, seeming to criticize the agency’s director, James Comey, in a new interview published Wednesday.

“I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations we don’t operate on innuendo, we don’t operate on incomplete information, we don’t operate on leaks,” the president told NowThis News, a social news outlet, during an interview taped Tuesday in Ohio. “We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”

“When this was investigated thoroughly the last time,” he added, “the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that -- you know -- she has made some mistakes, but that there wasn’t anything there that was, you know, prosecutable.”

You can watch the interview on the “Now This” Twitter account: 

The president leveled the critique of the agency days after FBI chief Comey sent a letter to Congress informing various committee leaders that more emails were found that could be “pertinent” to the Clinton probe. Soon after, top Democrats piled on Comey, blasting the director for breaking Justice Department protocol by commenting on an ongoing investigation, while many Republicans praised him. At least one Republican, Senate Judiciary chair Chuck Grassley of Iowa, joined in the broadside over Comey’s “vague” letter. Former Republican Attorneys General Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey also criticized Comey.

“Obviously it’s become a political controversy,” Mr. Obama said in his interview, and, he added, “I’ve made a very deliberate effort to make sure that I don’t look like I’m meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments.”

Addressing concerns about Clinton in light of the reopened FBI investigation, the president sought to assure voters that the controversy was just “being blown up” by partisanship.

“Hillary Clinton, having been in the arena for 30 years, oftentimes gets knocked around and people say crazy stuff about her and when she makes a mistake -- an honest mistake -- it ends up being blown up as if it’s just some crazy thing,” he said. “So I understand why if you are voting for the first time or even the second time, you know, all that noise coming at you, you think, oh, well, there’s something maybe, I should be worried about… [but] I wouldn’t be supporting her if I didn’t have absolute confidence in her integrity and her interest in making sure that young people have a better future.”

For the first time, the president also commented on the Dakota Access Pipeline, the 1,200-mile long oil line expected to run through four states. In recent weeks, police have clashed -- sometimes violently -- with protesters demonstrating against the potential environmental harm i could pose to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

“As a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans, and I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline,” the president said. 

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