The FBI is taking additional “investigative steps” into Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state as the agency has uncovered new emails pulled from the devices of top aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, The New York Times reported.
FBI director James Comey addressed his agency’s review in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, writing, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation … 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 was briefed on the emails in question on Thursday, according to Politico. A senior law enforcement official told NBC News on Friday that Comey’s letter was sent to Capitol Hill “out of an abundance of caution” and in the interest of being thorough. The official told NBC News the emails were found “on another device” and that they were not held by someone who was previously under investigation in the case. There’s no evidence that Clinton, her campaign or the State Department withheld information, the official noted.
Responding in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Hillary for America Chair John Podesta said, “Upon completing this investigation more than three months ago, FBI Director Comey declared no reasonable prosecutor would move forward with a case like this and added that it was not even a close call. In the months since, Donald Trump and his Republican allies have been baselessly second-guessing the FBI and, in both public and private, browbeating the career officials there to revisit their conclusion in a desperate attempt to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
“FBI Director Comey should immediately provide the American public more information than is contained in the letter he sent to eight Republican committee chairmen,” continued the statement. “Already, we have seen characterizations that the FBI is ‘reopening’ an investigation but Comey’s words do not match that characterization. Director Comey’s letter refers to emails that have come to light in an unrelated case, but we have no idea what those emails are and the Director himself notes they may not even be significant. It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election.”
Podesta said that Comey “owes it to the American people” to provide more details on the new emails, and concluded, “We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.”
The New York Times reported Friday afternoon that the emails came from devices seized from Abedin and Weiner, who has been embroiled in ongoing sexting scandals. The FBI is investigating illicit text messages that Weiner allegedly sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina, the Times said. The Washington Post identified a computer shared by Abedin and Weiner as the source device on which the emails were found.
Weiner was allegedly caught sexting a woman photos of himself in his underwear in bed next to his four-year-old son — the third such incident involving the former New York City mayoral candidate sending lewd photos. Abedin subsequently separated from Weiner in August.
Clinton’s email server investigation was initially closed in July. At the time, Comey recommended to the Justice Department that “no charges were appropriate,” but acknowledged that there was “evidence of potential violations” in Clinton’s “extremely careless” handling of classified information.
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In 11 pages of notes later released from the investigation’s interview with Clinton, the Democratic nominee — who is now less than two weeks away from the election — claimed that she did not understand that emails marked with a “C” meant they contained classified information.
She further claimed that she relied on her subordinates’ judgement when emailing sensitive information on her private email system.
Minutes after news broke of the reopened investigation, GOP nominee Donald Trump spoke at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he immediately brought up the FBI’s announcement.
“I need to open with a very critical breaking news announcement,” he said to cheers. “The FBI has just sent a letter to Congress informing them that they have discovered new emails pertaining to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s investigation. And they are reopening the case into her criminal and illegal conduct that threatens the security of the United States of America.”
“Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before,” Trump added as the crowd chanted “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
“We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office. 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 that they made,” he also said.
He added of the FBI’s initial investigation, “This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understood. And it is everyone’s hope that it is about to be corrected.”
“Perhaps finally justice will be done,” he added. “With that being said, the rest of my speech is going to be so boring! Should I even make the speech?”
“The system is rigged,” he later said. “But with what I’ve just announced previously, it might not be as rigged as I thought.”