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'Unprecedented, deeply troubling': Hillary on FBI move

By Lalit K Jha
October 30, 2016 10:25 IST
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Democratic US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Saturday called "unprecedented" and "deeply troubling" the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s decision to re-open its investigation into her use of private email server while secretary of state, with just over a week to go for the presidential election.

Clinton and her campaign pressed America's top cop, FBI Director James Comey, to put out the "full and complete facts" about a renewed probe into a cache of recently discovered emails, as the development emboldened Republican rival Donald Trump to seize on to the reignited controversy.

"It is pretty strange. It's pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election. In fact, in fact, it's not just strange. It's unprecedented," Clinton told cheering supporters at an election rally in Florida.

"And it is deeply troubling because voters deserve get to full and complete facts," she added as she called on Comey "to explain everything right away, put it all out on the table" and accused Trump of already "making up lies" about the development in the final leg of the campaign.

"He is doing his best to confuse, mislead, and discourage the American people. I think it's time for Donald Trump to stop fear mongering, to stop disgracing himself, to stop attacking our democracy. We can't let him get away with this, can we?" Clinton said.

Trump, at his own rally in Colorado, accused the justice department of trying to protect Clinton.

"You're supposed to give your emails. The process and the legal process has been taking a long time. It's very sad that it's taken so long. And now it's reported today this morning that the department of justice was fighting the FBI and that's because the department of justice is trying so hard to protect Hillary," the 70-year-old real estate tycoon alleged.

During a rare press conference on Friday, Clinton said she was "confident" the new FBI probe will not change its original finding that she should not be prosecuted.

The Clinton Campaign also questioned the agency's motive behind its decision taken days before the November 8 election.

"The extraordinary letter that Director Comey sent yesterday to eight Republican committee chairs was long on innuendo and short on facts. 24 hours after that letter was sent, we have no real explanation of why Director Comey decided to send that letter to congressional leaders," Clinton Campaign chairman John Podesta told reporters.

Podesta alleged the FBI director, by providing selective information, has allowed partisans to distort and exaggerate in order to inflict maximum political damage.

In a statement, the Democratic National Committee said that by releasing a letter within 60 days of the presidential election, Comey broke with long-standing department tradition that is meant to prevent any influence on the electoral process.

"The letter did not offer enough detail that would allow Americans a full understanding of the development and whether or not it is even significant, which has led to speculation on the part of the media and irresponsible claims by Republican leaders. The FBI must move quickly to release additional clarifying information," DNC demanded.

The FBI decided to re-open the case after it found some emails on the electronic device of Anthony Weiner, the husband of Clinton's close aide Huma Abedin, but did not specify what kind of email was found.

Podesta said: "No one can separate what is true from what is not because Comey is not been forthcoming with the facts. What little Comey has told us makes it hard to understand why this step has been warranted at all."

In another email to his supporters and a blog post, Podesta said by being vague and obfuscating, Comey has opened the door to conspiracy theories.

"Republican attacks against Hillary, and a surge of fundraising for Trump and his team. So this bears repeating: There is no evidence of wrongdoing, no charge of wrongdoing, and no indication that any of this even involves Hillary.

"Voters deserve answers. Comey needs to come clean with the American people about what he found and answer all the questions about why he took this unprecedented step less than weeks before the election," he said.

Podesta alleged that Trump has spent more than a year trying to bully his way to the presidency.

"He's been browbeating the FBI (indeed, many have speculated that Comey took this extraordinary action in part to reduce the pressure on his agency that Trump's campaign and his Republican Congressional allies has been building up), leading crowds in chants of "lock her up", and even saying Hillary should be in prison and if he won, he'd put her there.

"The facts be damned -- Trump's always shown a complete disregard for the truth. In spite of there being no new information, he's already raising money off the bizarre letter (he literally sent a text message asking for money within an hour of the story breaking!) and he's more fired up than ever on the trail today," Podesta said.

Clinton Campaign manager Robby Mook alleged the letter has raised more questions about Comey from his colleagues in law enforcement circles to take this extraordinary step days before the presidential election.

"Just this morning, there is a startling report in the Washington Post saying that senior justice department officials warned Director Comey not to do this and that it was inconsistent with the practices of the department.

"He was apparently told that "we do not comment on an ongoing investigation, and we don't take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election," according to one justice official who spoke to the Post. As a result of this, Comey has come under considerable pressure from not just Democrats but also Republicans and legal experts alike," he said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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