Trump em­bold­ened by Clin­ton email woes as she pushes back

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Julie Pace and Ken Thomas

DAY­TONA BEACH, FLA. >> Hil­lary Clin­ton lashed out Satur­day at the FBI’s han­dling of a new email re­view, lead­ing a cho­rus of Demo­cratic lead­ers who de­clared the bu­reau’s ac­tions just days be­fore the elec­tion “un­prece­dented” and “deeply trou­bling.” Em­bold­ened Repub­li­can ri­val Don­ald Trump seized on the reignited email con­tro­versy, hop­ing to raise new doubts about Clin­ton’s trust­wor­thi­ness.

Ral­ly­ing sup­port­ers in Florida, Clin­ton pressed FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey to put out the “full and com­plete facts” about the re­view into a cache of re­cently dis­cov­ered emails. Clin­ton back­ers panned Comey’s let­ter to Congress about the new emails as se­verely lack­ing cru­cial de­tails.

“It is pretty strange to put some­thing like that out with such lit­tle in­for­ma­tion right be­fore an elec­tion,” Clin­ton said. She ac­cused Trump of us­ing the is­sue to con­fuse and mis­lead vot­ers in the fi­nal leg of the cam­paign for the Nov. 8 elec­tion.

The con­tro­versy over Clin­ton’s email prac­tices at the State Depart­ment has dogged her for more than a year. The for­mer sec­re­tary of state has of­ten been re­luc­tant to weigh in on the mat­ter — and de­fen­sive when she’s been pushed to do so.

But Clin­ton’s ap­proach to this lat­est flair-up is markedly dif­fer­ent, un­der­scor­ing wor­ries that the mat­ter could dam­age her stand­ing with vot­ers in the elec­tion’s fi­nal days. Clin­ton ad­vis­ers have been ral­ly­ing Demo­cratic law­mak­ers and other sup­port­ers to her de­fense, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the Con­gres­sional Black Cau­cus.

Ear­lier Satur­day, Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podesta said there was “no ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing” in the new email re­view and “no in­di­ca­tion this is even about Hil­lary.” But Comey, who en­raged Repub­li­cans in the sum­mer when he an­nounced the FBI would not pros­e­cute Clin­ton for her loose han­dling of of­fi­cial email, in fact said the new trove ap­peared to be “per­ti­nent” to the Clin­ton email in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He did not ex­plain how.

A gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Satur­day that the Jus­tice Depart­ment had ad­vised the FBI against telling Congress about the new de­vel­op­ments in the Clin­ton in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­cause of the po­ten­tial fall­out so close to the elec­tion. The of­fi­cial was not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about the mat­ter and dis­cussed it on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Jus­tice of­fi­cials con­cluded the let­ter would be in­con­sis­tent with depart­ment pol­icy that di­rects against in­ves­tiga­tive ac­tions that could be seen as af­fect­ing an elec­tion or help­ing a par­tic­u­lar can­di­date, the of­fi­cial said.

Land­ing with a thud, the email is­sue again threat­ened to un­der­mine an ad­van­tage built by Clin­ton, the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, over Trump and raised the pos­si­bil­ity that the Repub­li­can might be able to seize late mo­men­tum.

Trump told a crowd in Golden, Colorado, on Satur­day that the FBI’s re­view of Clin­ton email prac­tices raises “ev­ery­body’s deep­est hope that jus­tice, as last, can be prop­erly de­liv­ered.” His crowd cheered Clin­ton’s email woes, which Trump has taken to call­ing the big­gest po­lit­i­cal scan­dal since Water­gate.

The FBI is look­ing into whether there was clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion on a de­vice be­long­ing to An­thony Weiner, the dis­graced ex­con­gress­man who is sep­a­rated from long­time Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din. Comey, in his let­ter to Congress on Fri­day, said the FBI had re­cently come upon new emails while pur­su­ing an un­re­lated case and was re­view­ing whether they were clas­si­fied.

Trump mused aloud dur­ing his rally about whether Clin­ton was “go­ing to keep Huma,” adding that Abe­din has “been a prob­lem.” He hurled in­sults at Weiner, warn­ing again that the for­mer con­gress­man posed a na­tional se­cu­rity risk be­cause of his ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion through his es­tranged wife. Abe­din, a close Clin­ton con­fi­dant who is a near con­stant pres­ence in the cam­paign, was not trav­el­ing with Clin­ton on Satur­day.

The FBI an­nounce­ment raised more ques­tions than an­swers and gen­er­ated crit­i­cism that Comey was in­ject­ing a sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment too close to an elec­tion. Yet the FBI di­rec­tor also faced the prospect of in­tense scru­tiny if vot­ers learned that he had been sit­ting on a ma­jor de­vel­op­ment un­til af­ter the elec­tion.

New York Rep. Gre­gory Meeks sug­gested the FBI chief might be try­ing to sway the elec­tion and called for him to dis­close what he knows. Clin­ton her­self said of Comey: “Put it all out on the ta­ble.”

Long term, the de­vel­op­ment all but en­sured that, even should Clin­ton win the White House, she would cel­e­brate a vic­tory un­der a cloud of in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans have al­ready promised years of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Clin­ton’s pri­vate email sys­tem. And that’s only one of the email-re­lated episodes fac­ing her in the cam­paign’s clos­ing days. The tens of thou­sands of con­fi­den­tial emails from Clin­ton cam­paign in­sid­ers that were hacked — her cam­paign blames 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 ex­ten­sive char­i­ta­ble net­work and post-pres­i­den­tial pur­suits.

In his let­ter to con­gres­sional lead­ers Fri­day, Comey wrote only that new emails have emerged, prompt­ing the agency to “take ap­pro­pri­ate in­ves­tiga­tive steps” to re­view in­for­ma­tion that ap­peared per­ti­nent to its pre­vi­ously closed in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Clin­ton pri­vate email sys­tem.

Given a po­lit­i­cal gift from the FBI, Trump’s chal­lenge now be­comes avoid­ing any big mis­steps that might over­shadow Clin­ton’s trou­bles over the cam­paign’s fi­nal days. If his­tory is a guide, that won’t be easy.

In­side Trump’s Colorado rally, his sup­port­ers wor­ried whether he could stick to his mes­sage about the emails.

“It scares me,” Howard Sanger, 56, of Parker, Colorado said of the prospect of an­other Trump gaffe. “But I feel like his in­ner cir­cle will stop him.”

Thomas re­ported from Wash­ing­ton. As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers Jill Colvin, Eric Tucker, Kath­leen Hen­nessey, Steve Peo­ples, Julie Bykow­icz, Will Weis­sert and Josh Le­d­er­man con­trib­uted to this re­port.

AN­DREW HARNIK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton speaks at a rally at Dickerson Com­mu­nity Cen­ter in Day­tona Beach, Fla., Satur­day.

EVAN VUCCI — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump ar­rives to speak at a cam­paign rally at the Jefferson County Fair­grounds, Satur­day in Golden, Colo.

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