The agency’s director told lawmakers that it hasn’t changed its opinion that the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges after a review of new e-mails.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday gave a clean chit to Hillary Clinton, saying she should not face criminal charges after a review of new e-mails, an 11th-hour respite for the Democratic presidential candidate that could be a game changer in the tight race for the White House.
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton,” FBI Director James B Comey told Congress leaders in a letter after a renewed probe into her use of private e-mail server as secretary of state following a cache of recently discovered e-mails.
The move, just before the general elections on Tuesday, came as last-minute relief to the 69-year-old former secretary of state following the agency’s announcement the probe that had triggered a backlash from the Democratic camp and dented Clinton’s popularity.
Republican rival Donald Trump, who had seized on to the reignited controversy following the FBI’s decision of the renewed probe, criticised the latest development, saying Clinton is being protected by a “rigged system” and that it is “unbelievable, what she gets away with”.
A similar letter was sent to the Congress on July 28 in which Comey had said the FBI has reopened the investigation following discovery of some pertinent e-mails on the laptop of Clinton’s close aide Huma Abedin which was shared by the latter’s estranged husband Anthony Weiner.
“Since my letter (of October 28), the FBI investigation 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. It was reported that there were 650,000 e-mails on that laptop.
“During that process, we reviewed all the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was the Secretary of State,” Comey said.
The FBI’s letter was welcomed by the Clinton campaign, which saw its popularity graph sharply dropping down in the aftermath of the October 28 letter.
“We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed it,” tweeted Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon.
“We are glad to see that he has found, as we were confident that he would, that he had confirmed the conclusions he reached in July and we are glad that this matter is resolved,” Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director, told reporters.
Clinton, who was campaigning in Cleveland, however, did not make any mention of it in her address. Trump challenged the FBI’s statement, saying: “You can’t review 650,000 e-mails in eight days.”
“You can’t do it folks. Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it. FBI knows it. Now, it is up to the people of the United States to deliver justice,” the 70-year-old real estate tycoon told supporters in a Detroit suburb in Michigan.
Image: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a campaign rally at the Cleveland Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images