The FBI will investigate whether additional classified material is contained in emails sent using Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state, FBI director James Comey informed Congressional leaders Friday.
The announcement appears to restart the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s server, which previously ended in July with no charges. The explosive announcement, coming less than two weeks before the presidential election, could reshape a campaign in that Clinton, the Democratic nominee, had been leading in public polls.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Comey said that the FBI had, in connection with an “unrelated case,” recently “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation.”
Comey wrote that he had been briefed on the new material Thursday. “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,” he wrote.
An FBI spokesman on Friday declined to elaborate. A Clinton campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When he announced the FBI’s findings in July, Comey said that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified material, which had been found among the emails exchanged on her private server.
He had said that his investigators found evidence of potential violation of laws governing the handling of classified information, but found that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring the case.
In particular, he said investigators did not find evidence that there had been intentional mishandling of classified material or indications of disloyalty to the U.S. or efforts to obstruct justice.
Comey had come under enormous pressure from Republicans for his recommendation to bring no case against Clinton. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly cited the decision as a sign of corruption endemic to Washington institutions and promised that, if elected, he would reopen the investigation.
Trump, addressing supporters in New Hampshire Friday, hailed the FBI’s announcement — saying he had “great respect” for the agency’s decision to “right the horrible mistake that they made.”
“Perhaps, finally, justice will be done,” he said, as the crowd pumped fists and cheered, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
As the news broke, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 150 points.
Word also began to spread quickly on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers saw the announcement as a potential game-changer for the election.
“A total bombshell,” said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), member of the House Homeland Security Committee. King predicted the FBI would not close its inquiry prior to the election, and said he believed Comey wanted the pubic to know of his move regardless of the outcome.
“He wants it all out there,” King said.
On Friday, Comey provided no details about the unrelated case that resulted in the finding of the new emails, though the anti-government secrecy group WikiLeaks has been releasing emails hacked from the account of campaign chairman John Podesta in recent days, including material in which some of Clinton’s closest advisors expressed surprise over her use of the server.
“[D]id you have any idea of the depth of this story?” Podesta asked campaign manager Robbie Mook late on March 2, 2015, the day the New York Times revealed Clinton had exclusively used a private account as secretary.
“Nope,” Mook replied early the next day. “We brought up the existence of emails in [research] this summer but were told that everything was taken care of.”
The State Department’s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, said the FBI has not notified them of the new emails and referred all questions to the FBI.
“We stand ready to cooperate if we’re asked to do so,” he told reporters. “But I don’t have any additional details at this point.”
Tom Hamburger, Carol Morello and Adam Entous contributed to this report.
SOURCE: Rosalind S. Helderman
The Washington Post
Read the FBI’s letter to congressional leaders
NBC News: FBI Says It Will Investigate New Hillary Clinton Emails
The FBI revealed Friday it was reviewing a new batch of Hillary Clinton emails that “appear to be pertinent” to its previous investigation into her use of a private server while she was secretary of state.
“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” FBI director James Comey said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “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.”
A senior law enforcement official told NBC News Friday that the Comey letter was sent to the Hill “out of an abundance of caution” and to be extra-thorough.
The official said the emails were discovered “on another device.”
There’s no indication, the official said, that Clinton, her campaign or the State Department was withholding information. But the emails were not held by someone who was investigated in the Clinton email case, the official said.
The politically explosive revelation, which came just 11 days before Election Day, appeared to catch the Clinton campaign by surprise.
“No idea,” a top Clinton campaign spokesperson told NBC News.
Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice presidential running mate, who was at an early voting site in Tallahassee on Friday told reporters “gotta read a little more, gotta read a little more” before continuing on.
GOP nominee Donald Trump, at a campaign event in New Hampshire, praised the FBI for having “the courage to right the horrible mistake they made,” an apparent reference to the agency’s decision earlier this year to not press criminal charges against Clinton.
“I need to open with a very critical breaking news announcement,” Trump said to cheers that at times drowned out his remarks. “The FBI has just sent a letter to Congress informing them that they have discovered new emails pertaining to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s investigation.”
“This was a grave miscarriage of justice,” he said, “it is about to be corrected.”
The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee also applauded the FBI’s move.
“The FBI’s decision to reopen its investigation into Secretary Clinton reinforces what the House Judiciary Committee has been saying for months: the more we learn about Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the clearer it becomes that she and her associates committed wrongdoing and jeopardized national security,” the Judiciary Committee said in a statement.
But Comey, who is also a Republican and who took a lot of heat in July for his agency’s decision to not charge Clinton with a crime, did not say in the letter that he was reexamining the FBI’s previous finding, which concluded that her handling of the emails was sloppy but not criminal.
Documents related to the case were released just before the Labor Day weekend and included a summary of Clinton’s July interview with the FBI about her private email server, as well as a detailed investigative summary of the case.
The FBI language in the letter to Congress made it clear that new evidence had been discovered and thus will be reviewed — meaning FBI agents will read these emails. It is unusual for the FBI to tell Congress it is looking over newly discovered evidence in a criminal inquiry that was otherwise closed.
The news comes as Clinton has been leading Donald Trump in the polls.
SOURCE: KASIE HUNT and CORKY SIEMASZKO and PETE WILLIAMS