FBI to investigate Clinton aide’s email
Material was on computer shared by Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner
WASHINGTON — Just as Hillary Clinton appeared to be cruising to Election Day with the wind at her back, the FBI rattled the presidential race Friday by announcing that it is again probing emails that might be related to her private server, rekindling a politically damaging controversy for Clinton and reinvigorating Republicans scrambling to hold on to congressional seats.
The surprise word from FBI Director James Comey came after his agency discovered new communications on a computer jointly used by close Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, a former New York congressman, according to U.S. law enforcement officials.
Investigators came across the emails while investigating whether Weiner violated federal law when exchanging sexually explicit texts with a15-year-old girl in North
Carolina, the officials said.
Comey wrote in a letter to Congress that the newly discovered messages could be relevant to questions of whether Clinton and her aides mishandled classified information while she was secretary of state.
The emails were not to or from Clinton, and they contained information that appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered, the official said, but in an abundance of caution, they felt they needed to further scrutinize them.
Because Comey had told Congress that the FBI had finished investigating Clinton’s server, he felt he needed to let lawmakers know that agents were looking into the case again in light of the recent discovery, the officials said.
The Clinton campaign was caught off guard, because the letter emerged while the candidate and her entourage, including Abedin, were flying on a campaign plane with no working Wi-Fi to a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Speaking briefly to reporters after an event in Des Moines, Clinton called on Comey to release more information. She said neither she nor her campaign staff was contacted by the FBI.
“The American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately,” she said.
Clinton also expressed confidence that whatever might be in the newly discovered emails “will not change the conclusion” Comey reached in July when he announced he would not recommend criminal charges.
Minutes after the news broke, Donald Trump took the stage in Manchester, N.H., to suggest the FBI was all but ready to indict Clinton — which Comey’s letter hardly suggested.
“Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before,” Trump said. He branded the latest news from the FBI “bigger than Watergate.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, excoriated Comey’s timing.
“The FBI has a history of extreme caution near Election Day so as not to influence the results,” she said in a statement. “Today’s break from that tradition is appalling.”
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a Republican, said in a statement, “The letter from Director Comey was unsolicited and, quite honestly, surprising. But it’s left a lot more questions than answers for both the FBI and Secretary Clinton. Congress and the public deserve more context to properly assess what evidence the FBI has discovered and what it plans to do with it.”
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas asked in a tweet: “Why is FBI doing this just 11 days before the election?”
Comey had written in his letter that he could not assess whether the new messages contained “significant” material or “how long it will take us to complete this additional work.”
The review could take weeks and will not be completed by Nov. 8, a law enforcement official said.
The short note put Comey, a Republican who was appointed by President Barack Obama, back under an unwelcome spotlight.
Democrats who had praised his handling of the email investigation this year, when Comey declared he had reviewed the evidence and found it did not merit criminal charges against Clinton and her staff, are now questioning his judgment.
Republicans who accused Comey of covering up Clinton’s misdeeds then were lauding his courage Friday. Trump said the political system “might not be as rigged as I thought.”
FBI chief James Comey says discovered messages could be relevant to whether Hillary Clinton mishandled U.S. secrets.