FBI has become a 'political football' after letter to Congress, former DOJ official says

Rivkin: Comey was in no position to take other course of action

The FBI has become a "political football" after FBI Director James Comey told Congress the bureau was investigating new emails related to Hillary Clinton, a former Department of Justice official said Monday.

After Comey sent a letter to lawmakers Friday informing them of new Clinton-related emails, partisans on both sides of the aisle argued about whether the FBI was justified in possibly influencing the presidential election this late in the game. Matt Miller, a former Department of Justice official, told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Monday that Comey was wrong to reintroduce the issue so close to the election.

"The problem is (Comey) created this situation where the FBI is a political football," he said. "Political opponents of the secretary are able to make all kinds of charges based not in fact and she's stuck in a place where she's not in a position to confirm because no one knows what the underlying issue is."

David Rivkin, a partner at Baker Hostetler, argued the FBI director would have been criticized no matter what he did, saying he was "in no position to take any other course of action." He said Comey gave the Clinton campaign a boost in July by giving the Democratic presidential nominee a "clean bill of health" in terms of the possibility of her facing criminal charges.

Miller and Rivkin agreed that Comey probably did not violate the Hatch Act, which bars government officials from using their authority to influence elections. Miller said, however, that part of being FBI director is taking criticism, and that "when the outcome is in doubt, the best thing to do is stick to the rules."