Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called on the FBI to release whatever information it might have relating to an investigation it announced on Friday into newly discovered emails that may be pertinent to its prior probe into her private account.
Appearing at a hastily called press conference Friday evening, Clinton said it was “imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without further delay.” Noting that it was 11 days before the election, she said that “the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately.”
Clinton’s campaign was shaken hours earlier when FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress saying that he was looking into whether additional emails uncovered in a separate investigation were pertinent to his prior look into Clinton’s email setup when she was secretary of state.
“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’m 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.”
Subsequent reports suggested that the emails had not been sent by Clinton and did not originate with her server. However, the Washington Post reported late Friday that the emails, numbering more than 1,000, included correspondence between Clinton and her longtime aide Huma Adebin. The FBI reportedly discovered the matter while investigating Anthony Weiner, the former New York congressman and recently separated husband of Abedin, who is embroiled in a sexting scandal with an underage woman.
Clinton said she found out about Comey’s letter through news reports and was caught off guard by many of the subsequent revelations.
“We’ve heard these rumors,” she said of Weiner’s involvement. “Right now, your guess is as good as mine. And I don’t think that’s good enough.”
Clinton’s call for the FBI to release more information capped a remarkable day on the trail, one that started with conventional wisdom hardening around her likely election win, and ending with pointed questions over how damaging the latest revelations would be.
Democrats and even some legal officials sharply criticized Comey for the timing and vagueness of his letter, while GOP nominee Donald Trump and congressional Republicans praised the director, after weeks of accusations that he fell down on the FBI’s initial investigation of Clinton’s emails.
But both presidential campaigns were united on one issue: the demand that the FBI release whatever relevant information it could.
“[B]oth Donald Trump and I commend the FBI for their transparency and their willingness to move forward now that they’ve come across new pertinent information,” said vice presidential candidate Mike Pence. “I mean, they stand for the principle that no one is above the law, and we respect the integrity of what the Director of the FBI announced to the Congress. But what I will tell you is I just learned moments ago that [Clinton campaign chairman] John Podesta echoed what I said here in Pennsylvania today, is that the public also has a right to know, and we’re really calling on the FBI to make this information public.”
At her press conference, Clinton wrongly said that the FBI director had only sent his letter to Republicans on the Hill. A Clinton campaign official later said she misspoke. That impression, the official said, was based on the first page of the letter, which listed the names of Republican chairs of committees, while the Democratic ranking members’ names weren’t listed until the second page.
S.V. Date contributed reporting.