FBI Director James 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 last twist to the 2016 presidential campaign and came 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.
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, as did a spokesman for the Department of Justice.
“We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed it,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted.
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.