F.B.I. To Congress: Never Mind

F.B.I. Director Comey tells Congress that it's investigation into new emails revealed no information to change its conclusions about Hillary Clinton and her email server.

F.B.I. Seal

On October 28th, F.B.I. Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress informing the Chairmen of several relevant committees that the Bureau was examining certain email that had been uncovered in the course of an unspecified investigation that appeared to be related to their previous investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving of Secretary of State required the Bureau to reopen the email investigation to determine if this new email was related to the server, whether they contained any classified information, and whether they warranted reopening the investigation itself. Soon after the release of this letter, it became apparent that the unspecified investigation in question was related to former Congressman Anthony Weiner and his alleged sexting with an underage girl and that there was a device discovered during the course of that investigation that may have had email related to Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin and her communications with Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. The immediate impact of the revelation was to completely upend the race and provide significant ammunition to Donald Trump and the Republicans at a point when the polls were already closing. Today, Comey sent another letter to Congress informing them that the investigation of the new email revealed nothing that changed the Bureau’s initial conclusion in July that no charges should be brought against Clinton or anyone else in connection with the server:

The F.B.I. informed Congress on Sunday that it has not changed its conclusions about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, removing a dark cloud that has been hanging over her campaign two days before Election Day.

James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, said in a letter to members of Congress that “based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”

The news that the bureau was looking at emails that it found on a computer used by a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, Huma Abedin, rocked the presidential race last month and provided a new opening for Donald J. Trump.

Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, said in a post on Twitter that the campaign was always confident that she would be cleared of any wrongdoing.

“We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited,” Mr. Fallon said. “Now Director Comey has confirmed it.”

Mr. Comey said in the letter that the bureau has reviewed all communications that were to or from Mrs. Clinton while she was secretary of state since he sent his last letter on Oct. 28.

In July, Mr. Comey said that although Mrs. Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless,” there was no evidence of intentional mishandling of classified information.

n the immediate term, the letter removes a cloud that has hung over the Clinton campaign since Mr. Comey announced his agents were reviewing new emails that might be related to an investigation into Mrs. Clinton that ended in July. But Mr. Comey’s move is sure to raise new questions from Democrats. Most important: Why did Mr. Comey raise the specter of wrongdoing before agents had even read the emails, especially since it only took days to determine they were not significant?

The Clinton campaign welcomed the news.

“We have seen Director Comey’s latest letter to the Hill,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman for the campaign. “We are glad to see he has found — as we were confident he would — that he has confirmed the conclusions he reached in July and we’re glad this matter is resolved.”

More from The Washington Post:

FBI Director James B. Comey notified key members of Congress Sunday afternoon that after reviewing all of the newly discovered Hillary Clinton emails the agency stands by its original findings against recommending charges.

Comey wrote that investigators had worked “around the clock” to review all the emails found on a device used by former congressman Anthony Weiner that had been sent to or from Clinton and that “we have not changed our conclusions expressed in July.”

The conclusion from Comey provided one last twist to the 2016 presidential campaign and came just two days before Clinton will face Republican Donald Trump on Election Day.

Comey had upended the campaign just over a week ago, when he alerted Congress that new emails had been located that were related to Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of state.

The emails came from a laptop owned by Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and had been seized by the FBI on Oct. 3 as part of an investigation into lewd text messages Weiner is alleged to have sent to a 15-year-old girl.

Comey had come under fire for inserting the FBI into the campaign’s final days with the announcement. Department of Justice policy discourages the agency from taking steps in days before an election, to avoid the perception that the FBI is trying to the influence the outcome of the vote.

Or, as Emily Litella put it:

There’s little doubt that this is a major development in both the email investigation and the election. With respect to the first, it reinforces the idea that, while Clinton was extremely careless in the manner in which she dealt with classified information in particular and her communications practices in general there was nothing that occurred in connection with the server that warranted bringing charges against Clinton for mishandling classified information or any other charges. According to initial reports, it quickly became apparent that the email that the Bureau had uncovered were either duplicates or dealt with unclassified matters, and although it’s unclear how they ended up on a laptop that primarily belonged to Anthony Weiner was unclear, it was clear that they did not warrant any further investigation on the part of the Bureau and certain didn’t warrant any change in the conclusion that there was not sufficient evidence upon which to bring charges against Clinton or any of her aides.

Comey’s Sunday letter comes after a week of controversy in which Comey was criticized for what appeared to many to be placing the F.B.I. in the middle of an election in direct violation of policy and practice in the past. At the time, I personally felt that Comey’s decision to send the letter was understandable given the fact that he had previously testified under oath to Congress that the Bureau had reviewed all of the relevant email   before reaching the conclusion that he announced back in July and that he was under a legal and ethical obligation to inform Congress if facts and circumstances changed in a manner that made previous testimony potentially untrue. In this case, the Weiner investigation had revealed that there were new emails that could be relevant to the Clinton investigation. If it became known that this was the case and Comey had not informed Congress and supplemented his testimony then he could have faced potential perjury or contempt charges for keeping Congress in the dark. Similarly, he sent the letter today for the same reason, to supplement his testimony. The fact that it came so close to a Presidential election is admittedly problematic, but these rules exist for a reason. At the same time, though, Comey is likely to face significant criticism for the way in which he has handled this matter that will likely lead to Congressional hearings and, potentially, a new F.B.I. Director to go along with a new President.

The big question, of course, is what impact this new will have on the election. With less than forty-eight hours left before people start going to the polls, it’s unclear how quickly a story like this will sink in with voters and what impact it may have on any voters who were likely to change their mind about Clinton based on the news regarding new email having been discovered, which admittedly may have been a very small group of voters to begin with. Beyond a doubt, though, this is good news for Clinton because it takes away a major talking point from Trump and his surrogates, who have been talking about this issue virtually non-stop on the campaign trail for the past week. To be honest, voters already inclined to vote for Trump are unlikely to be impacted very much by this news in any case, they will believe what they are already inclined to believe. The voters for whom this might make a difference are voters on the margin in states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and Michigan. Given how close those states are, that could make a difference when it comes to turnout even if it doesn’t directly change anyone’s mind. At the very least, we can say that this is good news for the Clinton campaign heading into the final hours of the campaign.

Here is Director Comey’s Letter:

James Comey Letter 11-6-2016 by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Crime, Hillary Clinton, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. DrDaveT says:

    Translation:

    “Now that the meme has been firmly planted that something damning has finally been found about Hillary Clinton’s email, I can make it clear to those few who are still listening that there was never actually anything. You may now continue with your regularly scheduled election.”

  2. Joe says:

    I believe this little adventure has been a net benefit for Trump since it sucked enthusiasm out of Hillary’s growing number of tepid supporters. People who were exhausted by the Comey’s earlier announcement are not likely to regain their enthusiasm by the more recent withdrawal. It will just wear them out further.

    Though it will be lost of CDS sufferers, finding a trove of email copies that Hillary was not aware of and concluding that they still raise no prosecutable issue actually helps Hillary’s story. One could conclude that her statements to the FBI last summer were tailored to the email she had turned over and thus knew about. Had there been some inconsistent email in the new collection, it could have raised serious issued about her candor during the interview process. That did not happen.

  3. dxq says:

    Open letter to anyone: if anytime in the past year you thought there was anything to the emails, well, bless your heart, and please go read the vox piece explaining the basic details.

  4. Lounsbury says:

    You lot need to have an internal cleaning at the FBI. Doesn’t matter your politics, this incident was a genuinely dangerous one.

  5. Dumb Brit says:

    “With less than forty-eight hours left before people start going to the polls, it’s unclear how quickly a story like this will sink in with voters and what impact it may have on any voters who were likely to change their mind about Clinton based on the news regarding new email having been discovered”
    Unfortunately half the country voted in the last 9 days.

  6. MBunge says:

    Just so we’re all clear…

    It was COMPLETELY OUTRAGEOUS for conservatives to question Comey’s decision that Hillary not be prosecuted.

    It was COMPLETELY OKAY for liberals to slime Comey and the entire FBI for notifying Congress that new evidence was found in the email case.

    And we’re now back to it being COMPLETELY OUTRAGEOUS to question Comey’s judgment, but only for conservatives because it’s okay for liberals to keep whining.

    I don’t want anyone to get confused.

    Mike

  7. wr says:

    @MBunge: What a load of crap, even for you. There isn’t a Democrat out there applauding Comey for this — they’re saying that it just proves how ludicrous it was to send the first letter when he had no idea what was in the newly found emails.

    But go ahead, Play junior Trump. Claim hypocrisy where none exists. Anything to help you live with your Trump vote.

  8. Scott O says:

    Will Mr. Trump announce that if you voted early for him because you thought Hillary was going to jail you can now go back and change your vote?

  9. @MBunge: I suppose there is someone out there who behaved as you describe, but you really need to stop all this straw man construction if you want to be taken seriously.

  10. Senyordave says:

    I still never understood why Comey made a public comment back in July. I don’t believe for a second that the the October 28th was coincidence.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    @MBunge: You wrote on another thread how you have no idea what you’ve been thinking…obviously that trend still continues…remember, be here Tuesday night with some crows to consume…

  12. @Senyordave: I think he should never have inserted himself into the election as he did (starting in July).

  13. Terrye Cravens says:

    Comey should have waited until he knew what he had. People are already voting, it might well have effected the race to even bring this up right now.

  14. Mister Bluster says:

    Comey wrote that investigators had worked “around the clock” to review all the emails …”

    Ahh for the good old days.

    “Are you absolutely certain that we have jurisdiction?” I asked. “I’m sure of it,” he [Felt] answered. “Just check it and be absolutely certain,” I ordered. “And then investigate it to the hilt with no holds barred.”
    Nubie FBI Director L. Patrick Grey to Deepthroat July 18, 1972 one day after the Watergate break in when they discovered the burglars had connections to CREEP (Committee to REElect the President.)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Patrick_Gray

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MBunge:

    It was COMPLETELY OKAY for liberals to slime Comey and the entire FBI for notifying Congress that new evidence was found in the email case.

    NO, it was completely OK for them to point out that releasing such a statement before your agency has even examined the emails in question (or indeed before it has even obtained the warrant necessary to allow it to do so in the first place) was both premature and highly prejudicial.

    It was also highly inappropriate this close to an election, and a credible argument can be made that his actions amount to a violation of the Hatch Act.

    Best case – his career is over in a few months, and that’s best case.

  16. Gustopher says:

    There are a lot of questions that need to be answered about the handling of this, the FOIA suddenly waking up to churn out carefully timed pro-Trump and anti-Clinton documents, and reports of rogue agents. And how did Guiliani know about it two days in advance. And were investigations into Trump’s Russian connections killed.

    Senator Franken is already calling for hearings on the matter — although those will likely only happen with a Democratic Senate. Failing that, we do have a perfectly capable Justice Department.

    And, @MBunge, none of this has been remotely acceptable — Director Comey has violated policy if not law on a number of occasions handling this. The FBI should not be sticking its nose into elections like this.

  17. An Interested Party says:

    What was that phrase that this site’s former #1 Troll liked to throw out there on occasion…some line about “if you come at the king, you best not miss” or something like that…I’m sure Comey will soon find ample opportunities in the private sector…

  18. Mikey says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    @MBunge: I suppose there is someone out there who behaved as you describe, but you really need to stop all this straw man construction if you want to be taken seriously.

    Oh, he’s far beyond that possibility by now. We’ve all pretty much figured out he’s a Trumpkin masquerading (poorly) as a concern troll.

  19. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @Senyordave: I may be way off base, but is it normal practice for the FBI to share the investigative process with congresscritters?

    Comey’s first error was when he decided to let Congress review his agents work back in July.

    Congress may all consider themselves Junior FBI agents, but professional investigators they are not.

    So now Comey has set a precedent that effectively invites the Congress to supervise and pass judgement on the quality of FBI investigations.

    What Comey should have done was tell Congress what his team’s recommendation was to the AG and refuse to comment further.

  20. Bob@Youngstown says:

    although it’s unclear how they ended up on a laptop that primarily belonged to Anthony Weiner was unclear

    I’m no detective, but I can suggest several ways that might have happened.

  21. JKB says:

    in general there was nothing that occurred in connection with the server that warranted bringing charges against Clinton for mishandling classified information or any other charges.

    Well, that is not true. We know that Hillary violated the law. What Comey said was that no prosecutor would prosecute on the evidence he laid out. Which was not true as former prosecutors have said that they would have brought her to trial. What Comey meant was that no current DOJ prosecutor will bring the case. And from what we’ve learned, that is really due to the corruption of prosecutorial discretion in the DOJ.

    As James wrote, the rule of law is broken when it comes to high government officials. We can only hope that only applies to malum prohibitum offenses and doesn’t come to also apply to malum in se offenses by high government officials.

    And while it is unlikely any new evidence would substantially alter the current prosecutorial “discretion”, the case is, of course, not closed, it is inactive. Criminal investigations are only ended by the statute of limitations or after jeopardy has attached due to prosecution. But the reality is, if Hillary wins, the case will be buried by the corrupt DOJ. If Trump wins, the most common resolution for high officials will have been imposed by the voters, i.e., removal of access to classified material and denial of future access.

  22. JKB says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: I’m no detective, but I can suggest several ways that might have happened.

    Well, unless those ways somehow happened without any possibility of knowledge by Huma, she’s still got some legal jeopardy to worry about for lying to the FBI and violating her immunity agreement.

  23. Kylopod says:

    @JKB:

    What Comey said was that no prosecutor would prosecute on the evidence he laid out. Which was not true as former prosecutors have said that they would have brought her to trial.

    What Comey actually said was, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” (emphasis added). He never said no prosecutors, period, would have done it.

    Are you even capable of arguing a point without distorting the facts?

  24. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Beyond a doubt, though, this is good news for Clinton because it takes away a major talking point from Trump and his surrogates, who have been talking about this issue virtually non-stop on the campaign trail for the past week.

    Not so fast Doug, it’s not November 9th yet:

    “Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway refused in a Sunday interview to accept FBI Director James Comey’s conclusion that newly discovered emails to and from Hillary Clinton did not change his agency’s conclusion not to recommend criminal charges against the former secretary of state.”

  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    We know that Hillary violated the law

    No, apparently only you do, and as I have asked you before – which law? Feel free to cite the exact statute(s) you believe that she violated and then explain how you believe that she violated them. We can discuss the situation attorney to “attorney”.

    Or you can keep doing what you’ve been doing from the outset – talking out of your behind about things you know little to nothing about and shredding what little credibility you had to begin with.

    Your call …

  26. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:
  27. Lit3Bolt says:

    At this point, it’s a genuine issue that any anti-Clinton FBI agents may be Russian plants.

    Housecleaning is not simply political, it may be necessary for national security.

  28. Lit3Bolt says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    B-b-but Hiterly!

  29. Lit3Bolt says:

    @MBunge:

    I see you have CDS. I’m afraid it’s terminal.

  30. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    LOL, I’ve reached that point where I’m just utterly and completely fed up with his idiot blogopshere armchair lawyer bullshit, which I have a very limited tolerance level for even under the best of circumstances.

    I’m a former AUSA myself and I’m in shred mode now, so bring it on …

  31. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    she’s still got some legal jeopardy to worry about for lying to the FBI and violating her immunity agreement.

    Actually, no, she doesn’t. Perhaps you can get one of your fellow internet lawyers to explain to you why she doesn’t.

  32. Grewgills says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Or you can keep doing what you’ve been doing from the outset…shredding what little credibility you had to begin with.

    There has been no credibility left to shred for quite some time now. He (she?) has no concern for facts and no shame about that. You can destroy his arguments yet again and it will make no difference to his arguments or his credibility. Do it for your own amusement if you like, but that is all it will be for.

  33. JKB says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Actually, no, she doesn’t.

    So you have some knowledge of how the emails got on the computer without Huma having any knowledge of the possibility?

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    That’s you refusing to answer the question.

    Cut the bullshit you sack of wind, answer the man’s question or fug off.

  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    You’re going off on the wrong tangent. You’d do better to just admit that you 1) have no idea which of the three different varieties of federal immunity she was granted to begin with (or that you even have any idea what those three different varieties even are to begin with), and that you have no idea what criteria a federal judge must employ in determining whether to void an immunity agreement in the first place (which has not happened with regard to Abedin).

    Helpful hint – it involves willful and knowing (two words you seem incapable of understanding) deception and/or subsequent perjury with respect to previously tendered information. Get back to me when you have evidence of either on Abedin’s part to share with the class.

    This isn’t some BS little league team where everybody gets a trophy for participating. Here in the deep end of the pool you’re going to need to know what you’re talking about, or you’re going to look like (even more of) a fool (than you already do).

  36. Eric Florack says:

    Translated James Comey…

    She’s guilty as hell but I don’t feel like dying

  37. Eric Florack says:

    By the way, here’s a little quiz for the armchair lawyers in here. The FBI and the doj are part of what branch of government?

  38. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Eric Florack: When ya got nothing…… just spin a conspiracy theory.
    Do you think that it would be a better fit under Legislative, where there is no hint of political agenda?
    Or the judicial where they – Law Enforcement – in bed with the interpreters of law?

    Ya got a handful of nothing, still the same nothing you (and they) have had for 30 years.

  39. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @JKB:

    lying to the FBI

    Would you like to be a tad more specific.

  40. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Feel free to cite the exact statute(s) you believe that she violated and then explain how you believe that she violated them.

    Objection. JKB’s specialty is bird law, so he can hardly be expected to answer questions outside his area of expertise.

    (Funny that some of the folks who want to skip over the indictment, the trial, the deliberations, and go straight to the “guilty” verdict think of themselves as “strict constitutionalists.” Uh huh.)

  41. Tyrell says:

    Looks like Director Comey is going to be in great shape at his retirement time.
    See “Clinton Cash”.

  42. Nikki says:

    @Tyrell: You mean the book the publishers had to re-edit after publication? That Clinton Cash?

  43. Pete S says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I’m sure Comey will soon find ample opportunities in the private sector…

    Yes, I am sure there will be a job opening for him in the Trump Organization in about 36 hours…

  44. gVOR08 says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    What Comey should have done was tell Congress what his team’s recommendation was to the AG and refuse to comment further.

    That. Comey opened this can of worms on himself in July. As this stuff emerges it looks more and more like his “extremely careless” crack was editorializing on his part, not supported by the evidence. And it is hard to not attribute it to partisanship.

    Clinton would be within her rights to expect either a stack of rogue agent resignations on her desk on Jan 23, or Comey’s.

  45. michael reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:

    Dude, don’t just repeat whatever idiot meme you see on Breitbart. If she was able to bribe Comey she’d have bribed him long ago, dontcha think? Jesus, Tyrell, engage brain.

  46. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Funny that some of the folks who want to skip over the indictment, the trial, the deliberations, and go straight to the “guilty” verdict think of themselves as “strict constitutionalists.” Uh huh.

    You don’t understand — Republicans believe they have a mysterious, infallible ability to know who is guilty and who is not, without benefit of (or indeed in spite of the results of) an investigation or a trial. This explains many of their behaviors with respect to law and order, justice reform, the death penalty, Hillary Clinton, “limited government”, etc.

    Definition: “circular justification” (noun). See: circular justification.

  47. michael reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:

    Clinton would be within her rights to expect either a stack of rogue agent resignations on her desk on Jan 23, or Comey’s.

    Let’s go for both. It is exceedingly bad for this country to have a politicized FBI. They have harmed this country by harming themselves. As @Lounsbury said yesterday, we need a thorough housecleaning at the FBI.

    Let’s start by looking at the fact that the FBI is over 80% white and male. It is not a good idea to have a national police force representing only the privileged class – that’s how you get to the point where the Trumpists at the FBI end up shooting their own agency in the face. It’s time to integrate the FBI.

  48. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: Okay, I will try to do more research.

  49. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pete S: Umm… I wouldn’t count on that. The Donald prefers his policemen to NOT do investigations that don’t lead to convictions. Cf. McCain, John.