Republicans quick to seek advantage from FBI announcement
Democrats take aim at new investigation
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A new shock hit Hillary Clinton’s campaign Friday in the unpredictable and often unbelievable presidential race: The FBI is looking into whether there was classified information on a device belonging to the estranged husband of one of her closest aides.
Adding to the drama of the revelation: The FBI uncovered the emails during a sexting investigation of Anthony Weiner, the disgraced ex-congressman who is separated from longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The news arrived with Clinton holding a solid advantage in the presidential race. Early voting has been underway for weeks, and she has a steady lead in preference polls.
But the development all but ensures that, even should she win the White House, the Democrat and several of her closest aides would celebrate a victory under a cloud of investigation.
It was a day that thrilled Republicans eager to change the trajectory of the race, none more so than nominee Donald Trump.
“Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before,” Trump said while campaigning in battleground New Hampshire. “We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.”
After weeks of declaring the race “rigged” in favor of his opponent, Trump declared Friday he has “great respect” for the FBI and the Department of Justice, now that they are “willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made” in concluding the investigation earlier.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said 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,” Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement. “This decision, long overdue, is the result of her reckless use of a private email server, and her refusal to be forthcoming with federal investigators. I renew my call for the Director of National Intelligence to suspend all classified briefings for Secretary Clinton until this matter is fully resolved.”
Democrats, still confident Clinton will prevail in 11 days, were enraged by the decision of FBI Director James Comey, a Republican, to disclose the existence of the fresh investigation in a vaguely worded letter to congressional leaders.
It wasn’t until hours later that word emerged that the source of the new emails was Weiner, the former congressman under investigation for sending sexually explicit text messages to a teenage girl.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Comey’s announcement “played right into the political campaign of Donald Trump, who is already using the letter for political purposes.”
She said the FBI has a tradition of caution before Election Day, but “today’s break from that tradition is appalling.”
It also reignited persistent worries among Democrats that electing the former first lady will restart a cycle of scandal and investigation that could rival the final portion of her husband’s term in office.
Congressional Republicans have already promised years of investigations into Clinton’s private email system. And that’s only one of the email-related controversies facing her. The tens of thousands of confidential emails from Clinton campaign insiders that were hacked — she and the government say by Russia — and then released by WikiLeaks have provided a steady stream of questions about her policy positions, personnel choices and ties with her husband’s sprawling charitable network and postpresidential pursuits.
The Clinton campaign demanded more information about the FBI’s announcement, with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta saying in a statement that Comey “owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining.”
Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, said the vague FBI statement 11 days before the election, with details leaking out to the news media, “is very troubling.” He, too, called for a quick, full accounting.
In his letter to congressional leaders, Comey wrote only that new emails have emerged, prompting the agency to “take appropriate investigative steps” to review the information that may be pertinent to its previously closed investigation into Clinton private email system.
The FBI ended that investigation in July without recommending that charges be filed.
As Hillary Clinton campaigns in Iowa on Friday, she faces a new FBI probe into her emails.