The Hillary Clinton campaign has questioned Federal Bureau of Investigation's decision to release archives of an old investigation of Bill Clinton's presidential pardon to a fugitive businessman. On Tuesday, the FBI released the files on a long-dormant Twitter account @FBIRecordsVault.
The timing of the release of data has been brought under suspicion by the Clinton campaign, with some accusing the bureau of meddling in the final days of a hard-fought election.
The FBI's tweet led some to conclude the documents were related to the Clintons' charitable foundation, but the tweet was referring to Bill Clinton's presidential library, which is governed by the William J Clinton Foundation, CNN reported.
The bureau posted 129 pages from its 2001 investigation of Marc Rich, a former hedge-fund trader who had been indicted on multiple counts of tax evasion.
Bill Clinton pardoned Rich on his last day in office, one of his most controversial decisions as president. The FBI closed its investigation of Clinton's pardon for Rich in 2005 and no charges were filed against the former president.
The seemingly random reminder of one of the darkest chapters of the Clinton presidency a week before the election drew an immediate rebuke from Hillary Clinton's campaign — with its spokesman tweeting that the FBI's move was "odd" and asking whether the agency planned to publish unflattering records about Republican candidate Donald Trump.
The Twitter account, which had last posted in October 2015, came to life on October 30 2016 and tweeted a series of archives. One of the releases is tax documents of Donald Trump's father Fred C Trump.
"Absent a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) litigation deadline, this is odd. Will FBI be posting docs on Trump's housing discrimination in '70s?" said Brian Fallon, Press Secretary for the Clinton campaign. He further tweeted, that there were "multiple FBI investigations into Trump's Russia ties."
The FBI defended its actions in a statement Tuesday evening. It responded that the tweet was automatic and in response to pending public records requests. The release comes a days after FBI Director James Comey's announcement that the FBI will resume investigation into Clinton's use of private email while in office.
After the announcement, many polls showed Trump ahead of Clinton in the presidential race. With less than a week for the presidential election, the release has made a dent in Clinton's race. She is left with only a week to turn it around in her favour.
The FBI was also criticised for seemingly taking sides in the presidential election, which it has previously not done. It's neutral and impartial image has been tarnished with the latest dumping of data on the Marc Rich pardon inquiry.
"Americans now look at the FBI and see a political entity, not a nonpartisan entity — and that has huge ramifications for the FBI and for all of us," said Matt Miller, former chief spokesman for the Justice Department and a Clinton supporter. "It shows disbelief in our system of government and is hugely toxic," he added.
Comey had also come under attack when it was found that he argued against accusing Russia of meddling in the presidential race so close to Election Day.