Comey said he didn’t know how long it would take to review, but the mere announcement that the FBI was revisiting a case it appeared to have closed without charges this summer had the potential to shake up a presidential race that has been trending decidedly in Clinton’s favor. The Republican chairman of the House oversight committee, Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, immediately released Comey’s letter publicly and proclaimed the investigation “reopened.”
In New Hampshire, a jubilant Donald Trump immediately seized on the news as a roaring crowd renewed its chant of “Lock her up!”
“I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake they made,” Trump said at the outset. “In all fairness, for all the people who have suffered for doing so much less, including just recently, four-star General James Cartwright, General Petraeus, and many others, perhaps finally, justice will be done.”
At a short press conference Friday night, Clinton herself responded for the first time to the FBI’s letter, echoing comments her campaign chairman, John Podesta, made earlier in the day demanding that Comey make public details of what exactly his agency is examining.
We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election of our lifetimes. Voting is already under way in our country. So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. The director himself has said he doesn’t know whether the emails referenced in his letter are significant or not. I’m confident whatever they are will not change the conclusion reached in July. Therefore it’s imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay.
Asked about Abedin’s connection to the FBI review, Clinton didn’t confirm her aide’s potential involvement.
We’ve heard these rumors. We don’t know what to believe and I’m sure there will be even more rumors. That’s why it’s incumbent upon the FBI to tell us what they’re talking about, Jeff [referring to the reporter]. Because right now, your guess is as good as mine, and I don’t think that’s good enough.
An FBI spokesman declined to comment beyond Comey’s letter and wouldn’t provide further information on what the new emails say or how the FBI acquired them. But with just 11 days until an election—and with more than 10 million votes already cast—that may not matter.
“Yet again, Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement in which he reiterated his call for intelligence officials to stop giving Clinton classified briefings as the Democratic Party nominee.
She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information. This decision, long overdue, is the result of her reckless use of a private email server, and her refusal to be forthcoming with federal investigators. I renew my call for the Director of National Intelligence to suspend all classified briefings for Secretary Clinton until this matter is fully resolved.
Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, told Vice News that Comey’s decision was “very, very troubling” and backed up Podesta’s call that the director provide “a full accounting” of what the FBI found. Other congressional Democrats began echoing the campaign’s line later in the afternoon and suggested that Comey had bowed to unrelenting pressure from Republicans who criticized his original decision not to seek charges against Clinton.