Explaining Hillary Clinton’s emails is something media outlets have had to do a lot this election season. With the latest revelation that the FBI were reopening the investigation, it seems it’s time to explain all over again.
On Friday the FBI revealed that they would be looking into newly discovered emails relating to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
In a letter to congressional leaders, FBI Director James Comey wrote, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. [The] investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”
Comey didn’t go into detail in the letter but did state that the FBI did not yet know whether the emails would be “significant,” and could not say how long the investigation would take.
The lack of clarity left many confused or worse, coming up with worst case scenarios. Here’s what we do know and what we don’t.
Where did these emails come from?
According to Vox, the new emails the FBI are reviewing “weren’t from Clinton’s server, that they didn’t appear to have been deliberately withheld from the FBI, and that the separate investigation that turned up the emails wasn’t related to the Clintons themselves.”
These emails instead were found on a device Clinton aide Huma Abedin shared with her then-husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner. According to NBC reporter Pete Williams, new emails were discovered on a laptop of Weiner’s that was seized after he was accused of sending inappropriate text messages and pictures to an underage girl.
The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times reported that the emails were reportedly not to or from Clinton and were likely duplicates of emails that have already been investigated. Abedin did have an email address on Clinton’s personal server. However, the reason why the FBI isn’t sure if these news emails are significant to the investigation into whether Clinton mishandled state documents while using said server is because they do not yet have access to these emails.
Once the FBI does have access to these new emails on Abedin’s account, they will investigate as to whether they include any classified information. If so, that could change the outcome of the previous investigation into Clinton’s emails.
The FBI originally found that “[Clinton and her staff] were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” but did not believe that Clinton’s lawyers intentionally deleted or looked to conceal the additional work-related emails that surfaced as part of the investigation. The FBI did not uncover sufficient evidence to recommend criminal charges in the case.
According to Politico, a FBI spokeswoman released a statement explaining, “At this time we can confirm the letter and can tell you that the newly discovered emails are not related to the WikiLeaks or any hacks. We cannot comment further.”
Why did Comey release this letter?
According to Newsweek, Comey, legally, didn’t have a choice. “Under oath Comey had stated that the bureau had completed its review. Once he learned that there were new emails that required examination, Comey had to notify Congress that he had to amend his testimony because it was no longer true.”
Comey’s letter doesn’t suggest a criminal act took place, but that “evidence that has not yet been examined needs to be reviewed because it is relevant to the case.” As Newsweek points out, the letter doesn’t actually say that the case has been reopened, despite Republicans using that wording on the campaign trail.
Politico reported that a FBI spokeswoman said in a statement, “At this time we can confirm the letter and can tell you that the newly discovered emails are not related to the WikiLeaks or any hacks. We cannot comment further.”
What has been the response from Democrats and Republicans?
Here’s the full Clinton press conference. Less than 5 minutes long https://t.co/MqilQGP7Pe
— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) October 28, 2016
In a press conference on Friday, Clinton said that the American people deserve “the full and complete facts” regarding the emails Comey references in his letter. She also she said she was “confident” that these new findings would not change the results of the previous, but that it was “imperative” for all information regarding these new emails be shared with the public.
“We are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has,” she said. “Let’s get it out.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump told a crowd in New Hampshire, “Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.” Trump added, “Perhaps, finally, justice will be done.”
According to the BBC, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta called the letter “long on innuendo” and “short on facts.” He also said that there is “no evidence of wrongdoing. No charge of wrongdoing. No indication this is even about Hillary”.
In an email statement via The New York Times, House speaker Paul D. Ryan said that Clinton should no longer be allowed to receive classified briefings. “Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame,” he wrote. “She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.”
Donna Brazile, the interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, criticized the FBI for interfering in the election. “The FBI has a solemn obligation to remain neutral in political matters,” Brazile said. “When the faintest appearance of using the agency’s power to influence our election is deeply troubling.”
According to The New York Times, the Justice Department “strongly discouraged” Comey’s letter and told him that he would go against policies that urge justice officials against talking about current criminal investigations during an election year.
“There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election,” George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general under President George Bush, told The New York Times. “Those guidelines exist for a reason. Sometimes, that makes for hard decisions. But bypassing them has consequences.”
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