One of Hollywood’s most influential figures branded the FBI “disgraceful” over its controversial last-minute intervention in the US presidential election.
Jeffrey Katzenberg on Sunday spoke out after FBI Director James Comey lifted the threat of charges against Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while secretary of state, just 36 hours before her White House showdown with Donald Trump.
“To have put her in that light one week before the election, and turn around two days before and say ‘just kidding?’ Pretty harsh,” the former Disney studio chief and DreamWorks co-founder told AFP.
Comey had sent shockwaves through both campaigns by announcing late last month a renewed FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server for official documents.
He was criticized for the vagueness of the announcement, which gave the Republicans ammunition to use on the stump and badly dented Clinton’s momentum just as it looked like she was cruising to victory.
“I think what happened in these last couple of days was really distressing to say the least, if not disgraceful,” Katzenberg told AFP on the red carpet at the annual Hollywood Film Awards.
Katzenberg, 65, is best known as the head of DreamWorks Animation, which made the money-spinning “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar” franchises.
Seen as one of Tinseltown’s most influential kingmakers, he has a personal wealth estimated at $880 million.
The host of glitzy political fundraisers attended by Oliver Stone, Ted Danson and others, he is one of Clinton’s closest allies in the entertainment industry.
He is said to have convinced Hollywood figures to part with around $15 million for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and has given more than $1 million of his own money to the Democratic Party.
The mogul recently netted more than $300 million after Comcast — the biggest cable television operator in the United States — completed a $3.8 billion buyout of DreamWorks Animation.
He stopped short of calling for any action against Comey personally, but said the FBI’s behavior in the emails affair had been “really hurtful.”
“The fact that today the director of the FBI is coming out and saying ‘there really wasn’t anything there?’ Please,” Katzenberg told AFP.