FBI Director James B. Comey told members of Congress Sunday that his agency is not recommending criminal charges related to Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information, after agents reviewed a new batch of emails.
Comey wrote in a letter to lawmakers obtained by Roll Call that FBI investigators have “been working around the clock” to review the emails, which were discovered during an unrelated criminal investigation.
Agents reviewed “all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of State,” Comey wrote.
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in our July recommendation,” Comey wrote to leaders of eight congressional committees.
In July, Comey said that Clinton and her colleagues had been “extremely careless” with classified information through her use of a private email server while she was at the State Department. But Comey said at the time that he would not recommend criminal charges be brought against Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president.
“We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited,” said Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon. “Now Director Comey has confirmed it.”
Senate Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California urged the Justice Department to review its procedures to ensure that similar actions would not influence future elections.
“The October surprise that came only 11 days before Election Day has unfairly hurt the campaign of one candidate and changed the tenor of this election,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Today’s letter makes Director Comey’s actions nine days ago even more troubling. There’s no doubt that it created a false impression about the nature of the agency’s inquiry.
But Speaker Paul D. Ryan said that Comey’s announcement did not change the circumstances surrounding the FBI investigation, and that voters should support Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
”Regardless of this decision, the undisputed finding of the FBI’s investigation is that Secretary Clinton put our nation’s secrets at risk and in doing so compromised our national security,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a statement. “She simply believes she’s above the law and always plays by her own rules.”“This is a pattern with the Clintons, and the American people should not have to endure four more years of their scandal and baggage,” Ryan said. “Fortunately, the American people have the opportunity to ensure Secretary Clinton never gets her hands on classified information again. Let’s bring the Clinton era to an end by voting for Donald Trump on Tuesday.”
Comey notified lawmakers on Oct. 28 that agents were aware of a new batch of emails. Multiple reports indicated the emails were discovered during an investigation into former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Comey’s announcement drew fire from Democrats and some Republicans since it came so close to the presidential election. Comey had written in his Oct. 28 letter that he was not aware whether the new emails were significant or how long it would take to review them.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid blasted Comey’s Oct. 28 letter and suggested he may have even violated federal law since the announcement came so close to the election. Reid also accused the F.B.I. of withholding “explosive information” about GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
Reid said Sunday night that Comey’s most recent announcement that the new emails did not change the agency’s decision not to recommend criminal charges showed the Oct. 28 letter was wrong.
“Director Comey’s actions were contrary to the Justice Department rules and longstanding practice, and may have violated the Hatch Act,” Reid said in a statement. “By confirming that the new emails were meaningless, today’s letter underscores the irresponsibility of Director Comey’s original letter.”
Both letters were sent to the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary, Intelligence and Oversight committees in the House and Senate, as well as the leaders of the Appropriations panel overseeing the FBI.
Niels Lesniewski and Rema Rahman contributed to this report.