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Podesta on Emails: Comey's Decision 'a Mistake,' 'Leakers Should Shut Up'

Clinton's campaign chairman also said he felt assured of her prospects while Newt Gingrich argued she isn't campaigning from a position of strength.
Image: John Podesta
John Podesta, on Nov. 9, 2012, in Washington, D.C.David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images

While Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said Sunday that he did not question James Comey's motivations, he maintained that the FBI director made a "mistake" in revealing that the agency would review new emails that "appear to be pertinent" to the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private server.

"I think what Mr. Comey did just nine days ago was a mistake," Podesta said on NBC News' Meet the Press. "I think it broke with precedent. I think it was criticized roundly by Democrats and Republicans including ... two former deputy attorney generals who served with him in the Bush administration."

Related: Trump and Clinton Sprint to Election Day Finish Line

Podesta stopped short of calling for Comey's resignation, instead calling for an end to "worrisome" leaks from within the FBI.

"I think the men and women of the FBI are doing a tremendous job out here across the country, but the leakers should shut up," Podesta said.

He also decried Wikileaks and Russia's alleged involvement in releasing the information in the final stretch before Election Day. Other Clinton campaign surrogates, including communications director Jennifer Palmieri, warned that any hacks released in the coming days were likely falsified.

Despite the hacks and the decision by the FBI — and Clinton's narrowing lead in recent days — Podesta said he was confident that Clinton would emerge victorious on Tuesday. He insisted that the campaign was confident about states like Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, which both went for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

“We feel good about Michigan and the rest of those states,” Podesta said on ABC's "This Week" as he minimized Trump's push to break through the traditionally blue wall. “But we want to hold on to the states that we think ought to be in the Democratic column, and Michigan’s one of them.”

Trump adviser Newt Gingrich, however, offered a sharp contrast on "Meet the Press." The 2012 presidential contender and former House Speaker argued that Clinton was "scurrying" for Michigan, not campaigning from the place of strength that Podesta posited.

"She was the one who was the frontrunner," Gingrich said. "She's the one who represented the incumbent president. She's the one who spent 46 years of her life trying to become president. Now she's scurrying off to Michigan [after] she didn't even think was in play."

Related: Final NBC/WSJ Poll: Clinton Holds a Four-Point National Lead Over Trump

When asked about a surge in early voting by Latinos and whether Trump's initial comments about Mexicans could backfire, Gingrich posed an alternate scenario about Clinton's prospects.

"Could it be that Hillary Clinton when she loses will look back and say, 'I shouldn't have been a serial liar, I shouldn't have totally abused national security and and I shouldn't have used the State Department office for personal corruption'?" Gingrich said. "I mean, she's got plenty of stuff to look back on if she loses."

Gingrich also contended that the word "corruption" was not loosely used in reference to Clinton. He further asserted that it would be difficult to unite the country post-election given the fear and distrust that has pervaded the American electorate.

"The elite media has blindly refused to tell the truth," Gingrich said. "The real interesting thing about WikiLeaks and everything else is they showed us how corrupt the system was... I think the real corruption is the lack of the media being willing to be honest about how much lawlessness the Clintons stand for and how they have ripped off the American people."