October 28, 2016: Comey reveals the Clinton email investigation is at least partially reopened due to the discovery of Huma Abedin emails in an unrelated case, shocking the US presidential race just 11 days before the election.

FBI Director James Comey sends a letter to eight Congressional committees, informing them that emails relevant to the Clinton email investigation have surfaced in another unrelated case, causing at least a partial reopening of the investigation. This is a major political shock and an unprecedented action, since it comes just 11 days before the US presidential election.

Huma Abedin and husband Anthony Weiner (Credit: Elinor Carucci / Vanity Fair)

Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner (Credit: Elinor Carucci / Vanity Fair)

Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s longtime close aides and her deputy chief of staff during her tenure as secretary of state, is married to Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic Congressperson. However, she is estranged from him and began divorce proceedings against him two months earlier, due to his repeated sex scandals. In his most recent scandal, it is alleged he sent illicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl. This led to an FBI investigation, and his computer and electronic devices were seized by the FBI on October 3, 2016. When his computer was examined, it was determined that it had been used by both Abedin and Weiner, and thousands of Abedin’s emails were found that could be relevant to the Clinton email investigation. That discovery in turn led to Comey being briefed on October 27, 2016, and then his surprise announcement one day later.

The New York Times reports calls Comey’s letter an “October surprise” that has “rocked” the 2016 presidential race. It has “left Mrs. Clinton’s team furious and scrambling for explanations while bolstering the spirits of Donald J. Trump after a wave of controversies and Republican defections had led many to write him off.”

Comey writes a very short letter that fails to mention many details. It states, in full: “In previous Congressional testimony, I referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.”

James Comey (Credit: public domain)

James Comey (Credit: public domain)

“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigation 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, as well as to access their importance to our investigation.

“Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016) (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

Later the same day, Comey also sends a short letter to all FBI officials, explaining his decision to send the letter. It is immediately leaked to the public. In it, he says, “Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.  In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.” (The Washington Post, 10/28/2016)

The New York Times further reveals that Comey was only briefed about the emails the day before, and they have not yet been closely examined. “A senior law enforcement official said that tens of thousands of emails belonging to Ms. Abedin were on Mr. Weiner’s laptop…” However, “Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server.” It is also unknown how many could be duplicates of previously known emails. (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

The Washington Post reports, “The correspondence included emails between Abedin and Clinton, according to a law enforcement official.” (The Washington Post, 10/28/2016)

Clinton and other Democrats are highly critical of Comey’s letter while Trump and other Republicans praise it.

October 28, 2016: The White House allegedly gets no advance notice of Comey’s letter.

Eric Schultz (Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / The Associated Press)

Eric Schultz (Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / The Associated Press)

White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz speaks to reporters about FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress announcing that he is at least partially reopening the Clinton email investigation due to newly discovered emails. Schultz says, “We got it through press reports. We had that letter after it was made public, so we did not have advance warning.”

He adds, “The president’s expectation is that all FBI efforts follow the facts wherever they lead.” (Politico, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Trump praises Comey’s letter and says “this changes everything.”

Trump speaks at a rally on October 28, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Credit: Darren McCollister / Getty Images)

Trump speaks at a rally on October 28, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Credit: Darren McCollister / Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.

At a campaign rally, Trump says, “Perhaps, finally, justice will be done. … Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.” For weeks, he had been highly critical of the FBI, but now he says, “I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the [Justice Department] are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made. This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understand. It is everybody’s hope that it is about to be corrected.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

He adds in a brief New York Times interview, “I think it’s the biggest story since Watergate. I think this changes everything.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: A Republican Representative leaks Comey’s letter to Congress.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (Credit: Jose Luis Magana / Reuters)

Representative Jason Chaffetz (Credit: Jose Luis Magana / Reuters)

On this day, FBI Director James Comey sends a letter to eight Congressional committees, revealing that the FBI is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation due to newly discovered evidence.

Shortly thereafter, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, reveals in a Tweet: “FBI Dir [Director] just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.’ Case reopened.” The full text of Comey’s letter is leaked to the media a short time later that same day.

Three days later, Chaffetz comments, “I thought I would put it out there. People have a right to know. It was newsworthy. It caught me by surprise. … It is absolutely correct” that the investigation is being reopened, after concluding in July 2016. “They are spending time, money and resources investigating. Nobody knows where it’s going to lead, but the reality is, it is reopened.”

The Democratic Coalition Against Trump announces on October 31, 2016 that it has filed a complaint against Chaffetz with the Office of Congressional Ethics “for his role in releasing information” from Comey. The coalition has also lodged a complaint against Comey with the Justice Department, requesting an investigation into whether his letter violated the federal Hatch Act for taking a political action shortly before an election. (Deseret News, 10/31/2016)

October 28, 2016: Democrats criticize Comey’s announcement regarding the FBI’s discovery of new information relevant to the Clinton email investigation.

Diane Feinstein (Credit: Arno Burgi / Zuma)

Senator Diane Feinstein (Credit: Arno Burgi / Zuma)

Prominent Democratic politicians react to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.

Clinton campaign chair John Podesta says, “Director Comey’s letter refers to emails that have come to light in an unrelated case, but we have no idea what those emails are and the director himself notes they may not even be significant. … It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election.”

Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), says, “The FBI has a solemn obligation to remain neutral in political matters — even the faintest appearance of using the agency’s power to influence our election is deeply troubling.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), says, “This is particularly troubling since so many questions are unanswered. … It’s unclear whether these emails have already been reviewed or if Secretary Clinton sent or received them. In fact, we don’t even know if the FBI has these emails in its possession.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Republicans applaud Comey’s announcement regarding the FBI’s discovery of new information relevant to the Clinton email investigation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (Credit: Molly Riley / The Associated Press)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (Credit: Molly Riley / The Associated Press)

Prominent Republican politicians react to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.

Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus says, “The FBI’s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server just 11 days before the election shows how serious this discovery must be. … This stunning development raises serious questions about what records may not have been turned over and why, and whether they show intent to violate the law.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) says, “Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame. She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.” He argues that she should no longer be allowed to receive classified briefings. (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Former FBI officials argue that Comey wouldn’t have reopened the Clinton email investigation so soon before the presidential election unless there was substantial new evidence.

After FBI Director James Comey reopens the FBI’s Clinton email investigation on October 28, 2016, there is much public debate why he would this given that there are only 11 days before the US presidential election. Politico reports that some FBI officials claim that it is “inconceivable to them that Comey would announce such a development because of some incremental or cumulative information in such a high-wattage case.”

One unnamed former FBI official says, “It never happens. Once you vacate a high-profile case, unless there’s some very significant omission, they won’t [reopen] it. … Comey’s not that way. He’s a very practical man. It must be something that goes to the substance. It can’t be cumulative. He’s not a grandstander… It’s not his style.”

Another unnamed “former high-ranking FBI official” says, “The only reason he’d do it is if he had something very pertinent. Certainly, 11 days before an election it could well affect the outcome. It just doesn’t make much sense without something very substantive.” (Politico, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Carl Bernstein says the FBI’s announcement must mean there is a “real bombshell” in the newly discovered evidence.

Carl Bernstein (Credit: public domain)

Carl Bernstein (Credit: public domain)

Reporter Carl Bernstein, best known for his reporting on the Watergate scandal, comments on the FBI’s surprise announcement that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being reopened. “We don’t know what this means yet except that it’s a real bombshell. And it is unthinkable that the director of the FBI [James Comey] would take this action lightly, that he would put this letter forth to the Congress of the United States saying there is more information out there about classified emails and call it to the attention of congress unless it was something requiring serious investigation.”

He also says, “Right now we’re all talking in a vacuum but I want to add here that in the last, oh, 36, 48 hours, there has been an undercurrent of kind of speculative discussion among some national security people that something might surface in the next few days about emails, and I think the expectation in this chatter — and I took it as just chatter but informed chatter, to some extent — was that it would relate to another round of WikiLeaks emails, which our Justice Department people seem to be saying is not the case, but there has been some noise in the national security community the last day or two of this kind of possibility of some kind of revelation.” (Real Clear Politics, 10/28/2016)