The new emails announced by the FBI on Friday as pertinent to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server were found on a device shared by her long-time aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband Anthony Weiner, according to reports.
FBI director James Comes told congressional leaders in a letter that the investigating agency had “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent” to the investigation of Clinton’s email server use.
He said he has ordered a “review (of) these emails to determine whether they contain classified information”. He added that the FBI did not know the significance of the new material and how long it would take to ascertain it.
Moving swiftly to contain the damage this announcement could cause her campaign 11 days from election day, Clinton said at a news conference, “We are calling the FBI to release all the information that it has.” She added, “Let’s get it out.”
Trump was, predictably, jubilant. He relayed the FBI announcement as “breaking news” to cheering supporters at a rally and told supporters at another rally, “Perhaps, finally, justice will be done.”
Is this the “October surprise” of this race? The term refers to a stunning setback for a campaign around this late stage of the race that leaves the nominee affected.
There have been few “October surprises” this season — the Access Hollywood tapes that had Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women; then women accusing Trump of forcing himself on them; and WikiLeaks’s daily dump of hacked emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
And now the Weiner emails. Though the FBI gave out no details, multiple news outlets reported the emails, running into thousands, were those sent and received by Abedin and had been backed up on Weiner’s device, a laptop.
They were found during the FBI’s investigation of explicit text messages sent by Weiner to a 15-year-old girl. Weiner and Abedin, who is of mixed Indian-Pakistani descent and have a son, announced they had separated in September.
Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state from 2009 to 2012 has dogged her presidential campaign from the time she launched her bid earlier in 2015. She has apologized for it, and has said many times shouldn’t have done it.
The FBI closed its investigation of the case in July, with Comey saying that though the former secretary fo state had been “extremely careless”, his investigators had found nothing to recommend she be prosecuted.
Republicans were outraged, and felt let down by one of their own, FBI director Comey, himself a lifelong Republican. He had tried to defend himself and his agency at a highly charged congressional hearing, but didn’t get much sympathy.
Comey was back in the crosshairs Friday, of Democrats this time, who accused him of breaching investigating principles, not rules, and seeking to insert himself as a player in a presidential election so close to election day.
Clinton campaign chair John Podesta said in a statement, “It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election. 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.”