Director James Comey writes that the FBI had uncovered the emails in an unrelated case but that it cannot yet determine if they are of any significance
The FBI is investigating newly-discovered emails sent by Hillary Clinton via a personal server, its director has announced.
The FBI had announced in July that its investigation into the Democratic presidential candidate’s private email server had concluded with a recommendation of no criminal charges in the matter, although James Comey, the FBI’s director, criticised Clinton as “careless”.
But in a letter sent to members of Congress on Friday, Comey said new emails had been discovered in an “unrelated” case.
“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote. “I am writing to inform you that 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 added: “Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant and I cannot predict how long it will take to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.”
The letter comes 11 days before the presidential election and nearly four months after Comey announced the FBI would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton for her “extremely careless” use of a private email server while secretary of state. The FBI director said then: “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes … our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
The controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server while at the state department has loomed over her candidacy since before she even announced her intent to seek the White House in April. Clinton’s use of am “homebrew” email server left emails containing classified information potentially vulnerable to foreign hackers and her deletion of 33,000 emails deemed personal has been a major campaign issue.
The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Dow Jones fell over 100 points after the release of Comey’s letter.
Donald Trump took the stage to a cheering crowd in New Hampshire shortly after the news broke. “They are reopening the case into her criminal and illegal conduct that threatens the security of the United States of America,” the Republican nominee said to loud chants of “lock her up”.
He continued to assail his rival in deeply personal terms. “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,” the Republican candidate said.
Trump, who has long claimed that the former secretary of state was only allowed to run for the White House because of a “rigged system”, added: “I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made.”
In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan condemned Clinton’s behavior. “Yet again, Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame. She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.”