Hillary Clinton demanded that the FBI immediately explain its decision to reopen an investigation into her use of private e-mails as secretary of state and said she’s confident that the renewed inquiry will show no wrongdoing.
“The American people deserve to get full and complete facts,” Clinton told reporters in Des Moines, Iowa, hours after her presidential campaign was rocked by a letter from FBI Director James Comey telling lawmakers of the revived inquiry. “If they’re going to be sending this kind of letter that is only going originally to Republican members of the House, they need to share whatever facts they have with the American people.”
The politically explosive development came less than two weeks before the presidential election, providing a boost to Republican nominee Donald Trump as most national polls showed him lagging behind. Comey said he can’t say how long the review would take — raising the possibility that Clinton could go into Election Day with the new probe unresolved and still hanging over her campaign.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation acted after investigators unearthed new e-mails through a separate probe of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband, former Representative Anthony Weiner. The bureau is probing illicit messages that Weiner allegedly sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.
That inquiry gave it access to a computer believed to have been used by both Weiner and Abedin, according a U.S. official who asked not to be identified discussing a pending investigation. Now the FBI is looking into whether Abedin’s e-mails are work-related and whether they contain classified information.
The more than 1,000 e-mails included exchanges between Abedin and Clinton, the Washington Post reported, citing a law enforcement official it didn’t identify.
Comey offered no such specifics in a letter to eight committee chairmen.
“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote. “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.”
Trump celebrated the FBI’s decision during an appearance with supporters in New Hampshire. “This is bigger than Watergate,” Trump told the crowd Friday afternoon, which began chanting “lock her up” after he told them about the probe.
Clinton dismissed the potential political impact of the FBI move. “People a long time ago made up their minds about the e-mails,” she said. “I think that’s factored into what people think and now they’re choosing a president.”
Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, slammed the timing of Comey’s decision.
“It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election,” Podesta said in a statement. “The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July,” he said, referring to a federal probe of Clinton’s e-mail practices that concluded without charges.
U.S. stocks erased gains as markets again showed themselves sensitive to perceptions about Clinton’s prospects, with the S&P 500 Index falling 0.3 percent in New York. The Mexican peso dropped, a reflection of Trump’s plan to renegotiate trade pacts with the country and reduce immigration.
Clinton had appeared to be cruising toward a dominant win in the election. She held an average four-point lead over Republican Trump in polls that include independent candidates as of Friday, according to Real Clear Politics. Some recent polls have been far worse for Trump; the Associated Press said on Oct. 26 that its poll showed Clinton with a 14-point lead. The election projection site FiveThirtyEight.com assessed her odds of a win at 82 percent on Friday.
Trump, who previously had denounced the FBI and Justice Department for failing to pursue charges against Clinton, praised the agencies on Friday. “I have great respect that the FBI and Department of Justice have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made,” Trump said. “This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understood.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said in a statement that “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.”
When the original investigation was closed in July, Comey faulted Clinton and her aides for “extremely careless” handling of classified information, but said the evidence wasn’t sufficient to warrant prosecution. Attorney General Loretta Lynch subsequently announced that no charges would “be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation.”
Comey on Friday gave lawmakers no indication in his letter about the importance of the new information. FBI press officials declined to comment.
“Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your committees about our efforts,” Comey wrote.