FBI Director James Comey has informed Congress that they will reopen their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal, a stunning new development on the eve of the presidential election. According to his letter, the bureau has found evidence in an unrelated investigation that uncovered more of Hillary’s e-mails, which might call into question the conclusions reached by Comey and the Department of Justice in early July:
BREAKING: FBI re-opening Hillary Clinton email investigation https://t.co/GvY1rHGqsZ
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 28, 2016
“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,” he wrote.
If these turn out to be significant, add it to the embarrassment that the FBI has already suffered in this investigation. Comey has already performed near-impossible contortions to excuse a lack of action under 18 USC 793(f) by pretending that it requires a mens rea for prosecution. The statute explicitly states that gross negligence rather than criminal intent is enough for felony prosecution for mishandling classified material, and anyone not named Clinton who set up a secret communications system that transmitted and stored classified material would have faced years in prison already.
One has to wonder whether this is part of the rumored revolt at the bureau. Did agents who got furious with Comey over his punt in July go back and revamp their case? Bear in mind that the FBI and the State Department have already acknowledged that classified information — including Top Secret/Compartmented information — got transmitted and stored in the server. What could the FBI find now that would add to that prima facie case? Perhaps an e-mail from Hillary herself instructing aides to transmit classified material in the clear? Well, we’ve already seen that, too.
With that in mind, don’t get your hopes up on the FBI actually recommending action on the do-over. If Comey wanted a prosecution, he had ample cause for it in July. It’s very intriguing, though, and as Rep. Bob Goodlatte says, it validates what Comey’s critics have said all along:
— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) October 28, 2016
Update: As theories go, this is certainly … one of them:
Or maybe Jim Comey just found more Clinton cronies he needed to immunize before 2017 and he couldn't do that w/ a closed investigation.
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) October 28, 2016
I’d laugh if it didn’t sound … plausible.
Update: Paul Ryan has called for an end to classified briefings for Hillary:
BREAKING NEWS → The FBI is reopening its investigation into Secretary Hillary Clinton.
My full statement ⇩ pic.twitter.com/LHfyg46dWk
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) October 28, 2016
It’s a little late for that, but it at least draws a line in the sand.
Update: Just to remind readers on my point above:
FBI’s Original Findings in #Clinton Email Case
52 email chains w/ CLASSIFIED info when sent/received
8 TOP SECRET
— Fox News Research (@FoxNewsResearch) October 28, 2016
If those numbers go to 10 TS, 20 TS, or 200 TS, it still doesn’t change Comey’s calculation on prosecution. We’ll see, but as I said before, don’t get your hopes up.
Update: Donald Trump was about to speak at a rally when the news broke, so his reaction here is extemporaneous. “Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before,” he told the crowd, and offered some respect for the FBI and DoJ for their second look at the case:
Video: Trump reacts to Clinton/FBI news: “Perhaps finally justice will be done.” https://t.co/3EDrIVpdb6
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) October 28, 2016
It sounds like the crowd may have known about the story before he got to the podium.
Update: This sounds like the worst of all worlds:
Pete Williams sources also say it isn't going to be a game changer. But will take more than 11 days
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) October 28, 2016
As skeptical as I am that anything will come of this (read my original post for that explanation), I find this very hard to believe. If that was the case, then there’s no reason to say anything until it was checked out. Perhaps Comey worried that not disclosing a new review would get criticized, but that pales against the impact of this on a presidential election, especially since they don’t think it will get resolved before Election Day.
Update (AP): Am I awake?
Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, an aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner.
Hillary’s going to lose the election to Trump because the perv sexting teen girls with his hand down his pants might have had classified information from his wife on the same phone? My God — this is the most Clinton thing ever. With 11 days to go, we have reached peak Clinton.
Update (Ed): Was the FBI awake? In retrospect, it seems odd that they never bothered to check devices which Huma Abedin — Hillary’s closest personal aide — could have accessed. That seems like a distinct lack of curiosity on the part of investigators, which is another reason why I don’t think this will ultimately go anywhere.
Also, this is a pretty good response to the Democratic spin machine:
— michaelscherer (@michaelscherer) October 28, 2016
Comey announced his conclusions in early July. Whether or not someone stamped the file “CLOSED,” it was hardly active between that point and now.
Update (Ed): It’s time to play … Spot The Irony!
Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta of Friday called on FBI Director James Comey to immediately release more details about the new evidence it is reviewing as part of its probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server at the State Department. …
“It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election,” he wrote, adding, “The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.”
Come on, man. Team Hillary chair John Podesta suddenly wants full transparency on an investigation into a secret e-mail server that Hillary Clinton kept hidden from the State Department, the courts, and Congress for over five years. That’s shameless spin.
Update: Via John Sexton, here’s the full Podesta statement:
— Gabriel Debenedetti (@gdebenedetti) October 28, 2016
Note that Podesta blames this on Trump and Republicans criticizing the FBI, rather than Anthony Weiner’s stupidity and potentially criminal conduct.
Update: Question asked, and question answered:
@EdMorrissey yes, in fact that is what they told reporters on Air Force One.
— Olivier Knox (@OKnox) October 28, 2016
I was kidding about that, but I should have known better. Irony is officially dead in 2016. (Reference here.)