The surprise word from FBI Director
Comey wrote in a letter to
The emails were not to or from Clinton, and contained information that appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered, the official said, but in an abundance of caution, they felt they needed to further scrutinize them.
Because Comey had told Congress that the FBI had finished investigating Clinton's server, he felt he needed to let lawmakers know that agents were looking into the case again in light of the recent discovery, the official said.
News of Comey's letter sent the stock market falling and Republican candidates rewriting their stump speeches. The Clinton campaign was caught off guard, as the letter emerged while the candidate and her entourage, including Abedin, were flying on a campaign plane with no working Wi-Fi en route to a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Speaking briefly to reporters after an event in Des Moines on Friday, Clinton called on Comey to release more information. She said neither she nor her campaign staff was contacted by the FBI and noted twice that the bureau communicated only with Republican congressional investigators, though Democratic lawmakers also said they were informed by the agency.
"The American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately," she said.
Clinton also expressed confidence that whatever might be in the newly discovered emails "will not change the conclusion" Comey reached in July when he announced he would not recommend criminal charges.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, excoriated Comey's timing.
"The FBI has a history of extreme caution near election day so as not to influence the results," she said in a statement. "Today's break from that tradition is appalling."
Democrats were not alone in demanding Comey disclose more information or questioning such a disclosure so close to the presidential election.
"The letter from Director Comey was unsolicited and, quite honestly, surprising,” said a statement from Senate Judiciary Chairman
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas asked in a tweet: "Why is FBI doing this just 11 days before the election?"
Comey had written in his letter that he could not assess whether the new messages contained "significant" material or "how long it will take us to complete this additional work." He wrote that the FBI would "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."
The review could take weeks and will not be completed by election day, a law enforcement official said.
The short note put Comey, a Republican who was appointed by President Obama, back under an unwelcome spotlight. Democrats who had praised his handling of the email investigation this year, when Comey declared he had reviewed the evidence and found it did not merit criminal charges against Clinton and her staff, are now questioning his judgment.
Republicans who accused Comey of covering up Clinton’s misdeeds then were lauding his courage Friday.
The announcement that FBI agents would again be combing through emails possibly linked to Clinton's private server was enough to shift the tone of the race. Minutes after the news broke, Trump took the stage in Manchester, N.H., to suggest the FBI was all but ready to indict Clinton — which Comey's letter hardly suggested.
"Hillary Clinton's corruption is on a scale we have never seen before," Trump said as the crowed roared "lock her up," a staple chant at his rallies. "We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office."
Trump branded the latest news from the FBI "bigger than Watergate."
Congressional GOP candidates in tight races, who have been struggling to deflect voter attention away from their uneasiness with a presidential nominee who has been a drag on the ticket, were also quick to pounce.
"This decision shows exactly why we need strong watchdogs in Congress to ensure thorough oversight of the executive branch,” Rep.
Unless the fresh FBI review leads to new evidence of actual wrongdoing by Clinton, it may not substantially change the contours of a presidential race in which Clinton is polling far ahead, and at least 17 million Americans have already cast their ballots through early voting.
But it could provide a badly needed boost to congressional Republicans. Antipathy toward Clinton is the issue that most unites the party.
Pennsylvania Republican Sen.
Other Republicans demanded their opponents disavow Clinton — just as Clinton and her allies have for months been demanding Republican candidates disavow Trump following some of his more incendiary comments and the emergence of a video in which Trump boasted of his uninvited sexual advances toward women.
“The FBI is reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton,” said one of a blizzard of carbon copy releases sent out by the National Republican Congressional Committee, where only the state and name of the Democrat targeted on each was changed. In this case, the target was Rep.
Times staff writers Chris Megerian in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Lisa Mascaro in Manchester, N.H., contributed to this report.
10:40 a.m., Oct. 29: This article has been updated with Democratic lawmakers saying the FBI also informed them of the investigation.
4:25 p.m.: This article has been updated with comments by Hillary Clinton.
3:10 p.m.: This article has been updated with reaction from Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
1:10 p.m.: This article has been updated with reaction from Donald Trump.
12:25 p.m.: The article has been updated with details about the Anthony Weiner probe.
12:10 p.m.: The article has been updated with additional details from law enforcement agents.
11:35 a.m.: This article has been updated with comments from a law enforcement agent.
11 a.m.: This article has been updated with additional reaction and background.