Less than two weeks before the presidential elections, the FBI announced that it was reopening the investigation into Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton‘s emails.
The emails from the closed investigation into Clinton’s private internet server were found on a computer belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aid, Huma Abedin, during an investigation into illicit text messages he sent to a 15-year-old girl.
FBI Director James Comey announced his decision on Friday in a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz.
“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and 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, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation”, Comey wrote.
This reverses his position from one month ago, when the FBI refused requests from Republicans to reopen the case against their rival. His decision is exceptional, going against longstanding Justice Department and FBI practice to not comment publicly about politically sensitive investigations within 60 days of an election.
In an interview with Real Clear Politics, top political columnist Carl Bernstein opined that the new evidence must be significant.
“It is unthinkable that the Director of the FBI would take this action lightly, that he would put this letter forth to the Congress of the United States saying there is more information out there about classified e-mails and call it to the attention of congress unless it was something requiring serious investigation,” Bernstein said.
Clinton responded with confidence to the new development.
“The American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately,” said Mrs Clinton at a press conference. “It’s imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay. I’m confident (that) whatever they are will not change the conclusion reached in July,” Clinton told reporters.
Clinton was investigated for mishandling sensitive and classified material while serving as secretary of state. During the senate hearings, Comey concluded she had been “extremely careless” but did not press any criminal charges.
This also brings into question Abedin, who served as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff from 2009 to 2013 and is her campaign vice-chairwoman. During the previous investigation, Abedin swore under oath that she had turned over all devices she had used for the emails in question.