Clinton scrambles to contain e-mail fallout

WITH IT: "We are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has. Let's get it out." - US DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE HILLARY CLINTON
WITH IT: "We are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has. Let's get it out." - US DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE HILLARY CLINTON
GAME CHANGER: "I think it's the biggest story since Watergate. I think this changes everything." - REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE DONALD TRUMP OUT
GAME CHANGER: "I think it's the biggest story since Watergate. I think this changes everything." - REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE DONALD TRUMP OUT

FBI says it is restarting probe; Republican director draws fire

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign is scrambling to contain the fallout from a stunning FBI announcement that it is restarting a probe into the former secretary of state's use of a private e-mail server while in office.

The disclosure by FBI director James Comey - that it has found a new cache of e-mail related to the case - sent shockwaves through an already volatile campaign, making what seemed like an easy win for Mrs Clinton on Nov 8 into a much closer race.

It also raised the spectre that the elections might produce a winner who is subsequently charged with a crime. It was thought the probe had ended in July when the Federal Bureau of Investigation recommended that no charges be filed against Mrs Clinton, although it found her to have been "extremely careless" in her use of a private server.

The New York Times reported that the Clinton campaign spent much of the past 24 hours frantically trying to get more information about which e-mail from a laptop used by Clinton aide Huma Abedin could have raised flags for the FBI. The e-mail messages were reportedly uncovered during an unrelated investigation involving Ms Abedin's estranged husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who owned the laptop.

 
 

On the campaign trail, Mrs Clinton demanded more information from the FBI.

Speaking at a brief press conference in Iowa last Friday, she said: "Voting is already under way in our country. So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately."

Similarly, her campaign chair John Podesta decried the FBI announcement as "extraordinary" while expressing confidence that the new probe would not turn up any wrongdoing. "We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July," he said.

There was also a separate attempt by Democrats to undermine the integrity of the Republican FBI director.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, denounced Mr Comey's actions in a blistering statement.

Noting how little information the FBI had about the e-mail before making the announcement, she said: "It's too bad director Comey didn't take those gaping holes into consideration when he decided to send this letter. The FBI has a history of extreme caution near Election Day so as not to influence the results. Today's break from that tradition is appalling."

Mr Comey explained in a memo to FBI employees that he felt an obligation to act. "Of course, we don't ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed."

He added that the bureau did not yet know the significance of the newly discovered e-mail, and did not offer a timeline for the review.

Still, the announcement was welcome news for Republican Donald Trump, who had suffered a torrid past month amid allegations of sexual misconduct. He was quick to seize on the issue, praising the FBI at a rally in New Hampshire.

To chants of "lock her up" from the crowd, Mr Trump said: "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."

He added: "I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the DOJ (Department of Justice) are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made. This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understand."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 30, 2016, with the headline 'Clinton scrambles to contain e-mail fallout'. Print Edition | Subscribe