The FBI says the Hillary Clinton email investigation is back on.
FBI Director James Comey shocked the political establishment Friday afternoon when he disclosed in a letter to Congress that the bureau is renewing their investigation into emails sent over a private server Clinton used while serving as secretary of state.
“The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote, adding the FBI learned of these emails “in connection with an unrelated case.”
It turns out that “unrelated case” was the investigation into Anthony Weiner, husband of Clinton’s close aide Huma Abedin, who is being investigated for sexting with a 15-year-old girl, according to the New York Times.
In the letter, Comey said 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.”
With 11 days to go before the presidential election, the turnabout by the FBI comes as yet another twist in a presidential election full of them. Clinton currently has a sizable lead over Trump in polls, but the revelation could have significant political consequences for Hillary Clinton on Election Day and beyond.
While Republican members of Congress had already indicated that they intended to continue their own investigations if Clinton occupies the Oval Office, the addition of the FBI adds a new wrinkle with unknown consequences.
The FBI closed its initial, monthslong investigation July 5 and Comey has since defended his agency’s handling of it from political attacks. Though Comey called Clinton and her aides “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” he recommended that no one be charged.
This also leaves Clinton vulnerable to what is sure to be a barrage of attacks from Republicans as Election Day nears. Clinton’s campaign had frequently cited Comey’s close of the investigation as evidence that any controversy was being ginned up by Republicans for political gain.
“This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understand,” Republican nominee Donald Trump said in a statement. “It is everybody’s hope that it is about to be corrected.” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has been publicly feuding with Donald Trump, issued a statement that “Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame.”
“It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election,” said Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, in a statement. “The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining.”
Clinton’s setup of a private email server for official State Department correspondence has dogged her campaign even before it even officially began in April of 2015. Hacked emails from campaign chairman John Podesta released on WikiLeaks show that many senior staff were caught flat-footed when the server became public knowledge in March of that year.
“Did you have any idea of the depth of this story?” Podesta asked campaign manager Robby Mook after the New York Times published a story on the server. “Nope,” Mook replied, “We brought up the existence of emails in research this summer but were told that everything was taken care of.”
Communications Director Nick Merrill emailed at the time that the controversy could play “over the weekend” and die in “the short term.” These predictions have been so wrong that members of the Clinton staff now privately laugh at their past naivete.
In its previous investigation, the FBI spent a year probing Clinton’s private email server, which stemmed from a so-called “Section 811” referral from the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General. The inspector general determined that classified national security information in Clinton’s emails may have been “compromised” and shared with “a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,” according to documents obtained by VICE News.
Last month, the State Department agreed to post to its website by Nov. 3 as many as 1,850 pages of emails that Clinton failed to turn over originally. The FBI recovered the emails during the Bureau’s investigation into Clinton’s email practices.
The deal was hammered out between VICE News and the State and Justice departments in response to our ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the agencies. We sued State in January 2015 for all of Clinton’s emails, two months before it was publicly known she exclusively used private email to conduct official business as secretary of state.
Our FOIA case was the catalyst behind the yearlong release of 30,000 of Clinton’s emails.
We later filed a FOIA lawsuit against the FBI for everything the bureau recovered from Clinton’s private email server, including the emails the FBI found that she didn’t turn over to State. In August, the FBI turned over to the State Department seven DVDs containing emails and other material retrieved from Hillary Clinton’s private, unsecured email servers. At least one of those DVDs contained communications that were deemed to be classified. The revelation was disclosed during a hearing in VICE News’ FOIA case.