You know those new emails related to the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton? The ones that have dominated the last week of the presidential campaign? Turns out there’s nothing new there after all.
In a letter to chairs of congressional committees on Sunday, FBI Director James Comey wrote that FBI employees had been “working around the clock” to review a tranche of new emails discovered during an unrelated investigation that it believed might be pertinent to its investigation of Clinton’s email while at the State Department.
“During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State,” Comey wrote. “Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”
Those conclusions were that although Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless” with classified information, there was not grounds to bring a criminal case against her. Comey later told Congress it wasn’t a close call. In essence, despite the last week’s fire drill, things still sit exactly where they did on July 5.
Comey set off a firestorm, and jolted the presidential race, on October 28, when in a letter to the same members, he announced the discovery of the emails, which are widely reported to have been discovered on a laptop belonging to former Representative Anthony Weiner, who is under investigation for allegedly sexting a North Carolina teenager. Weiner’s estranged wife is top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Comey said at the time that he did not have a timetable for reviewing the emails, and reports suggested that any review would not be completed before the election. The FBI came under intense pressure to release information, and Comey was subject to bipartisan condemnation for writing the letter so close to the election. The letter also set of a round of recriminations between Democrats and the bureau, as well as an onslaught of competing leaks that have raised concerns that FBI employees are attempting to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump.
Comey had no way to put the toothpaste back in the tube, but with his follow-up letter on Sunday, he’s doing the best he can to wipe up the mess it made.