FBI Director James Comey said in a letter to members of Congress Sunday afternoon that the agency had finished looking at new emails that it had deemed possibly related to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. Comey said the agency stands behind its previous conclusion that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case against the Democratic nominee.
“Since my letter, the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. During the process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State,” Comey wrote in the letter. “Based on our review we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”
This was an unexpected follow-up to a letter Comey sent to Congress members a little over a week ago, informing them that new and possibly relevant emails had surfaced in the course of another investigation. The unrelated case, it turned out, was the bureau’s investigation of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, who is accused of conducting an improper online relationship with a minor.
The investigation, erroneously hailed by Congressional Republicans as a “reopening” of the Clinton email investigation, appeared to hasten a precipitous slide in the polls for the Democratic nominee and a simultaneous bounce for her rival. Clinton, who was leading by 4.6 points nationally the day of Comey’s letter, was leading by just 1.3 points less than a week later, according to the Real Clear Politics average. Several battleground states, and even safe Democratic states, suddenly appeared in play for Republicans.
Comey was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for writing such a vague letter to Congress so close to the election, in violation of Justice Department’s protocol to avoid the appearance of interfering with elections. Later reports indicated Comey wrote the initial letter because he feared the news would leak, as Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani seemed to confirm it had in several television interviews. (Democratic members of Congress are now calling for an inspector general investigation into the potential leak.)
“I am very grateful to the professionals at the FBI for doing an extraordinary amount of high-quality work in a short period of time,” Comey said in his letter Sunday.
As on October 28th, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz was one of the first to tweet about Comey’s letter Sunday. And Clinton was again on an airplane as the news broke Sunday, this time flying to a rally with LeBron James in Cleveland. Her press secretary, Brian Fallon, responded on Twitter: “We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed it,” Fallon said.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted back to Fallon, “Then why did you, your colleagues, and your candidate attack Comey and his credibility?”
Trump, campaigning in the blue state of Minnesota Sunday afternoon moments after the news broke, apparently had not heard the news. He said Clinton’s indictment was near, adding she “will be under investigation for a long, long time for her many crimes against our nation, our people, our democracy, likely concluding in a criminal trial.”