FBI director says agency once again won’t recommend charges over Clinton email

Clinton speaks with communications director Jennifer Palmieri aboard the campaign plane. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Clinton speaks with communications director Jennifer Palmieri aboard the campaign plane. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

FBI Director James B. Comey notified key members of Congress Sunday afternoon that after reviewing newly discovered Hillary Clinton emails the agency stands by its original findings against recommending charges.

Comey wrote that investigators had worked “around the clock” to review all the emails found on a device used by former congressman Anthony Weiner that had been sent to or from Clinton and that “we have not changed our conclusions expressed in July.”

The conclusion from Comey provided one more twist to the 2016 presidential race and cleared away a major distraction for Clinton and her team just two days before the election.

Comey had upended the campaign just nine days ago, when he alerted Congress that new emails had been located that were related to Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of state.

The announcement effectively revived a controversy that had dogged Clinton since before she launched her presidential campaign and resumed an FBI investigation that had concluded in July. At the time, Comey had criticized Clinton as “extremely careless” with classified information but said,”no reasonable prosecutor” would recommend criminal charges.

Clinton campaign responds to Comey: ‘We’re glad this matter is resolved’

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Hillary Clinton’s campaign director of communication, Jennifer Palmieri, responded to FBI Director James Comey on Sunday, Nov. 6, after the FBI announced they would not recommend charges over Clinton’s newly discovered emails. (The Washington Post)

Prior to his Oct. 28 announcement, Clinton had opened a significant lead over Republican Donald Trump in most public polling following a string of strong debate performances. But the polls tightened considerably as Clinton’s email practices once again took center stage.

The newly discovered emails came from a laptop owned by Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The computer had been seized by the FBI on Oct. 3 as part of an investigation into lewd text messages Weiner is alleged to have sent to a 15-year-old girl. Abedin has told people close to her that she does not know how her emails ended up on her husband’s laptop.

Comey had come under fire for inserting the FBI into the campaign’s final days with the announcement. Department of Justice policy discourages the agency from taking steps in days before an election, to avoid the perception that the FBI is trying to the influence the outcome of the vote.

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment beyond Comey’s letter. A Department of Justice spokesman said only that the department and FBI had “dedicated all necessary resources to conduct this review expeditiously.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted in response: “We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed it .”

The news hit as Clinton and her campaign team flew from Philadelphia to Cleveland for a campaign event. Some aides read the news on a phone passed around the staff cabin before the plane lost satellite wifi ahead of landing.

The three-paragraph letter was sent to the chairman of the Homeland Security, Judiciary, Appropriations and Oversight and Government Reform and was copied to the ranking members of those committees. Comey said the FBI had performed an “extraordinary amount of high quality work” to conduct the review.

Comey, who had been praised by Democrats and blasted by Republicans in July, had spent the last several days in the opposite position. Trump, who had charged for weeks that the FBI investigation had been rigged because it did not result in criminal charges for Clinton, instead announced that he had “great respect” for the FBI.

Asked Sunday to react to Comey’s announcement, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC that “he’s mishandled the investigation from the beginning.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said that regardless of Comey’s announcement, “the undisputed finding of the FBI’s investigation is that Secretary Clinton put our nation’s secrets at risk and in doing so compromised our national security.”

“Fortunately, the American people have the opportunity to ensure Secretary Clinton never gets her hands on classified information again. Let’s bring the Clinton era to an end by voting for Donald Trump on Tuesday,” Ryan said in a statement.

Senate Homeland Security Committee, Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) promised to press ahead to question Comey about the review and “to hold Secretary Clinton, Director Comey, and the administration accountable and to ensure compliance with our federal records and national security laws.”

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee said the announcement “affirms and vindicates” the FBI’s decision from July. “Over the past week, Republicans have engaged in wild speculation and launched unsubstantiated accusations, but the FBI has determined—yet again—that they are without merit. Now it is time for the American people to go forward base,” he said.

Anne Gearan, Sari Horwitz and Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.


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