FBI Director James Comey said Sunday that the agency has again determined it would not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton — the latest stunning development in the renewed probe of the Democratic presidential nominee’s private email server just days before the election.
“The FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation,” Comey said in a letter Sunday to key lawmakers. “Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”
The letter went to the Republican leaders and Democratic ranking members of eight key Senate and House committees with oversight over the FBI. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, made the letter public.
The director initially cleared Clinton of wrongdoing in July, but slammed her “careless” handling of classified material by use of a private email server.
However, Comey sent shock waves through the political world on Oct. 28, when he told Congress the FBI had renewed its investigation after discovering messages to and from Clinton found on electronic devices belonging to top aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband, disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner.
That decision had drawn the ire of the Clinton campaign and Democrats, who lambasted the Republican Comey for making what some called a politically motivated decision.
Despite the 11th-hour manner of Sunday’s announcement, the Clinton campaign told reporters they welcomed the news.
“We’re glad to have this matter resolved,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign communications director, Yahoo News reported.
The news broke as Clinton was en route to Cleveland for a rally alongside Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, just two days after music icons Jay Z and Beyoncé held a concert and rally for Clinton in Ohio, an important swing state.
Clinton’s press secretary Nick Merrill was spotted reading something aloud to the group from an iPad, presumably Comey’s letter, Yahoo News reported.
The Clinton campaign had insisted the renewed FBI probe had not negatively affected her presidential bid despite subsequent pre-election polls that showed tightening race between her and GOP nominee Donald Trump, attributing Clinton’s narrowing lead to other factors.
But Clinton surrogates strongly criticized Comey for making such a decision so close to Election Day.
Earlier Sunday, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker referenced the incident at a black church in Philadelphia, where he appeared with Clinton.
“We saw what the FBI did in Martin Luther King’s day,” Booker said. “People trying to chill turnout, people trying to dampen enthusiasm. People throwing slings and arrows at our standard-bearer that are unacceptable to us.”