During an exclusive interview with Fusion's Alicia Menendez on Saturday, Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a "leaky sieve" and said he believed Trump surrogate and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's claim that he was given advance notice about a further investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails from within the FBI.
Giuliani told Fox News two days before FBI Director James Comey announced the renewed investigation that there would be a "big surprise" coming from the FBI and confirmed to Fox & Friends on Friday that "you're darn right I heard something." He walked back his claim on CNN Saturday, saying he was only referring to "tremendous anger" he heard from former FBI agents that Comey had not recommended criminal prosecution for Clinton. Top House Democrats have already called for an official investigation.
"I don't think Giuliani's walk back is credible," Kaine said. "I think the FBI sadly has become like a leaky sieve," adding that while he believes Comey violated longstanding FBI protocol by discussing investigative information about a politically sensitive case so close to an election, he doesn't believe that he is trying to influence the election.
"What's come out since," Kaine added, "suggests that it's probably more likely explained that [Comey] knew that the FBI is not only a leaky sieve but there were people within the FBI actively working—actively working—to try to help the Trump campaign. This just absolutely staggering, and it is a massive blow to the integrity of [the FBI]." Kaine speculated that Comey felt pressured to release some information because "subordinates would do it if he didn't."
Kaine voiced hesitant support for President Obama's view that there might be a way for the Dakota Access Pipeline—which has been the subject of mass protests from Native Americans who claim their water supply would be endangered and who have been met with a militarized police response—to be re-routed, though he stopped short of calling for the project to be canceled, as Senator Bernie Sanders has done. The Clinton campaign has been criticized for its relative silence on the issue.
"Certainly the questions raised about the route are important," Kaine said in response to Menendez's question as to whether or not he agreed with Sanders. "I'm optimistic about [finding a different route]."
"So you'd be in support of re-routing it?" Menendez asked. "Well, look, they've already re-routed it once," Kaine said, referring to a scrapped route that would have run just north of Bismarck, North Dakota's capital. It was canceled because of concerns it could taint the city's water supply.
"If it's an important enough project, you ought to be able to find a route that works. What the Obama administration has done by saying, let's look at route alternatives, I think is the right thing to do."
Elsewhere in the interview, Kaine was asked what the Clinton would do in the event that Donald Trump, who has warned might not accept the results of the election, does not concede on election night, assuming he loses.
He said Trump was "not qualified" for the job if he responds that way, and drew a line between Trump's vision of a rigged election and the military dictatorship that ruled Honduras when he was there as a Jesuit volunteer in 1980. "There weren't free elections, accepting a peaceful transfer of power, and people prayed for the day they could have that," Kaine said.
"Donald Trump, at the end, is trashing the democratic institutions in this country, saying that we can't run a fair election, saying that he may not respect the outcome of the election demonstrates a deep and profound misunderstanding of the system we have. The way I look at it is, if you think that poorly of us, of us voters and officials who run elections, then why are you running to be president? He's gonna say this probably because he's not capable of accepting responsibility for anything. You don't see him ever accepting responsibility, ever apologizing for a mistake.… I assume he'll blame others if he loses. That's one of the reasons we're working so hard at the end. We think if the margin is clear enough, he can whine all he wants but people will just understand those are the words of a sore loser."
"So you will jump up onstage and make an acceptance speech without a concession speech?" Menendez asked. Kaine said the decision was up to Clinton, as the leader of the ticket, and that he would support whatever she did. But, he said, their goal is to make it "very, very plain that any post-election griping by Donald Trump is just the words of a sore loser and that the mandate of the electorate will be clear whether or not he accepts it."
Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that Tim Kaine was referring to James Comey, not Rudy Giuliani, knowing that the FBI is a "leaky sieve."
Sam Stecklow is the Weekend Editor for Fusion.