Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) tweeted Friday morning: “FBI Dir just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. ‘Hillary Emails Case reopened.”
Moments later, NBC News reported that the agency was reopening the investigation and shared a letter from FBI director James Comey informing key lawmakers of the investigation.
Director James Comey writes that the FBI had uncovered the emails in an unrelated case but that it cannot yet determine if they are of any significance.
The FBI is investigating newly discovered emails related to Hillary Emails (personal server), its director has announced.
Hillary Emails Case – The FBI had announced in July that its investigation into the Democratic presidential candidate’s private email server had concluded with a recommendation of no criminal charges in the matter, although James Comey, the FBI’s director, criticised Clinton as “careless”. writes The Hill.
According to The Guardian in a letter sent to members of Congress on Friday, Comey said new emails had been discovered in an “unrelated” case.
“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote. “I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”
“Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant and I cannot predict how long it will take to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.”
“The system might not be as rigged as I thought,” remarked Donald Trump at a rally on Friday afternoon.
A US security source firmly ruled out that the “unrelated case” Comey referred to in his letter was the investigation into the digital penetration of the Democratic National Committee earlier this year. US intelligence officials have blamed Russia for hacking the DNC and releasing its internal communications online.
The source, who would not speak on the record, said neither that inquiry nor its adjuncts were related to the new investigative developments related to Clinton. Nor is the recent criminal investigation into a National Security Agency contractor accused of hoarding highly classified intelligence data.
Later the Associated Press, citing an unnamed official, claimed the newly discovered emails “did not come from her private server”. Several outlets have reported that the emails came from devices seized from top Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner, in connection to an investigation of inappropriate text messages that Weiner sent to an underage girl.
The letter from Comey comes 11 days before the presidential election and nearly four months after the FBI director announced the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton for what it dubbed “extremely careless” use of a private email server while secretary of state.
The FBI director said then: “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes … our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
It was not immediately clear if Clinton would address the matter publicly. She ignored shouted questions from reporters waiting on the tarmac about the FBI’s announcement and did not raise the issue after taking the stage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, sticking with her routine stump speech.
But he campaign chairman John Podesta called on Comey to “immediately provide the American public more information than is contained in the letter he sent to eight Republican committee chairmen”.
“Already, we have seen characterizations that the FBI is ‘reopening’ an investigation, but Comey’s words do not match that characterization,”
“Director Comey’s letter refers to emails that have come to light in an unrelated case, but we have no idea what those emails are and the director himself notes they may not even be significant.”
He added that he was “confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July”.
Clinton’s running mate, Virginia senator Tim Kaine, told reporters he had to “read a little more” when asked about the matter on the campaign trail in Florida.
The Dow Jones fell more than 100 points after the release of Comey’s letter.
The controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server while at the state department has loomed over her candidacy since before she even announced her intent to seek the White House in April. Clinton’s use of a “homebrew” email server left emails containing classified information potentially vulnerable to foreign hackers, and her deletion of 33,000 emails deemed personal has been a major campaign issue.
Trump took the stage to a cheering crowd in New Hampshire shortly after the news broke.
“They are reopening the case into her criminal and illegal conduct that threatens the security of the United States of America,” the Republican nominee said to loud chants of “lock her up”.
He continued to assail his rival in deeply personal terms.
“Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before – we must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office,”
Trump, who has long claimed that the former secretary of state was only allowed to run for the White House because of a “rigged system”, added:
“I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made.”
Trump’s running mate, Indiana governor Mike Pence, also pounced on the news while campaigning in Pennsylvania – bringing the crowd to its feet when informing supporters of the FBI’s announcement.
“We commend the FBI for having the courage to reopen this case, because no one is above the law,”
The Republican vice-presidential nominee also called on the FBI to make public all emails pertinent to the investigation.
In a statement, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, condemned Clinton’s behavior. “Yet again, Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame. She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.”
Some lawmakers questioned the timing of the announcement, with less than two weeks remaining until the election.
“Why is FBI doing this just 11 days before the election?” John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, tweeted. “Why would FBI reopen Hillary investigation unless there is evidence of more than ‘extreme carelessness’ in handling classified information?”
California Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Clinton ally and the senior Democrat on the intelligence committee, proclaimed herself “shocked” by Comey’s behavior. Feinstein had praised Comey in July for a “thorough, objective review” after the FBI director declined to recommend an indictment over Clinton’s private email service.
Comey had “played right into the political campaign of Donald Trump,” Feinstein said, adding that his departure from the FBI’s “history of extreme caution near Election Day” was “appalling”.
Democrats also complained in private that Comey’s letter was vague and raised more questions than it answered.
The Republican National Committee was quick to cast the FBI’s announcement as a reopening of the investigation into whether Clinton engaged in criminal behavior – even though the nature of the new inquiry remained unclear.
“The FBI’s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server just 11 days before the election shows how serious this discovery must be,” the RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, said in a statement.
“This stunning development raises serious questions about what records may not have been turned over and why, and whether they show intent to violate the law.
“What’s indisputable is that Hillary Clinton jeopardized classified information on thousands of occasions in her reckless attempt to hide pay-to-play corruption at her State Department,”
“This alone should be disqualifying for anyone seeking the presidency, a job that is supposed to begin each morning with a top secret intelligence briefing.”