Americans were thrust into a frenzy yesterday when news broke that the director of the FBI, James Comey, had written a letter to Congress indicating that there were new emails discovered in an “unrelated investigation” that might be connected to the Hillary Clinton email investigation, according to the New York Times. That was what the letter said, but it did not indicate that Hillary Clinton was being investigated for anything.
Even so, when the words “FBI,” “Hillary Clinton,” and “emails” are strung together, it is very easy for many to jump to conclusions. And many did.
Among the most commonly asked questions since the news broke yesterday was why James Comey would release such a letter 11 days before an election? Also, what does the letter really mean?
In light of these two questions, CNN reports that Hillary Clinton has called for the FBI to release full disclosure to the American people on what the letter really means. Meanwhile, a grassroots coalition known as the Democratic Coalition Against Trump issued a press release yesterday stating that a complaint has been filed with the Department of Justice against FBI Director James Comey for interfering in the presidential election, citing violations of the Hatch Act.
The letter itself, from FBI Director James Comey to Congress, states that “due to recent developments,” he was required to supplement previous testimony made on the Hillary Clinton email investigation. He wrote that an “unrelated case” had uncovered the “existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the [Hillary Clinton email] investigation.”
Director Comey also said that he had been briefed on Thursday on the existence of the emails and that the emails would be reviewed to “assess their importance.” He also said he wasn’t sure if the emails were significant or not.
Yet, it seems anyone in the country who does not like Hillary Clinton has decided that the emails are indeed significant. However, very little information about the emails in question is known at this time, prompting Hillary Clinton’s request for full disclosure to the American people.
What is known is that the emails in question were recovered from a device obtained in the Anthony Weiner FBI investigation, reports the New York Times. Anthony Weiner is the disgraced congressman and estranged husband to Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The New York Times reports that the emails referenced in the Director Comey letter released yesterday were found on a device used by Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin. While the laptop was being investigated for the Anthony Weiner probe, emails between Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton surfaced.
The content of those emails is unclear at this time, but those emails are the focus of this new letter from the FBI.
CNN reports that Hillary Clinton has “forcefully” demanded more information from the FBI on the matter, saying at a Des Moines, Iowa, rally yesterday, “Voting is underway, so the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately… It is imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay.”
CNN reports that Hillary Clinton has also said that she is confident the emails in question will not change any conclusions made in July by the FBI when it was announced there was not enough evidence to levy criminal charges against her.
The news has also prompted a complaint filed with the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility against FBI Director James Comey. According to a press release issued yesterday, the complaint was filed by the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, citing violations of the Hatch Act. The complaint states that federal employees are “forbidden from participating in political activities.” They aren’t the only parties concerned with the FBI letter.
Democratic Congressman John Conyers issued his own statement yesterday, reports CNBC.
He wrote, “Nothing in today’s letter suggests that the FBI or Department of Justice will reach a different conclusion than they one they reached months ago, when they decided criminal prosecution was unwarranted… Any inference or conclusion to the contrary would be completely speculative and unjustified. In fact, the press has already reported that the emails in question did not come from the Secretary’s server – and were not withheld from investigators by Secretary Clinton or her campaign.”
Conyers also said that Donald Trump “and his allies” seem to have faith in the FBI “only when it serves their political purposes.”
John Podesta, the campaign chair for Hillary Clinton, has also released a statement on the matter. He cited the event yesterday as “extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election.” John Podesta also called for the director of the FBI to “immediately provide full details” and that he “owes it to the American people.”
CNBC reports that the letter itself was not about anyone withholding new evidence. Instead, it was about an “abundance of caution,” according to a senior law enforcement officer to CNBC. The Associated Press confirmed on Twitter yesterday that the emails in question were not from Hillary Clinton’s private server.
Even so, Donald Trump and his allies have used the information to celebrate, reports CNBC, despite a complete lack of evidence to support his claims.
At a rally yesterday, CNBC reports that Donald Trump said, “They are reopening the case into her criminal and illegal conduct that threatens the security of the United States of America.”
Trump’s campaign chair, Kellyanne Conway, was also celebrating news of the Anthony Weiner investigation. She also used the news as an opportunity to attack Hillary Clinton’s request for transparency.
As Think Progress notes, as soon as the news broke yesterday, many jumped to the conclusion that she could be indicted.
However, Think Progress reports, “Well, probably not. Indeed almost definitely not.”
Think Progress notes the most relevant section of the letter is the one where FBI Director James Comey says he’s “learned of the existence of emails” that he did not review in the Hillary Clinton investigation. This relevant paragraph goes on to say the FBI will “allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information.”
In other words, reports Think Progress, the FBI is not reconsidering their previous findings that there was no evidence to levy criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. Think Progress says the FBI is “not questioning its previous legal conclusion” but “will simply provide the same scrutiny to these newly uncovered emails.”
However, the “initial narrative” from this news yesterday, particularly the narrative being spun by the Republican camp, is exactly the opposite, reports Think Progress.
“Several reporters did acknowledge this narrative is not true,” reports Think Progress.
Think Progress also says, this letter obviously raises many questions, “not the least of which is why the Republican FBI Director decided to release such an inflammatory letter.”
It is, however, this very inflammatory narrative that poses a threat to the election, says the Democratic Coalition Against Trump. And it is this dangerous narrative and speculation that has prompted them to file a complaint with the Department of Justice Professional Responsibility against FBI Director James Comey.
In their press release issued yesterday, they stated, “It is absolutely absurd that FBI Director Comey would support Donald Trump like this with only 11 days to go before the election. It is an obvious attack from a lifelong Republican who used to serve in the Bush White House, just to undermine the [Hillary Clinton] campaign. Comey needs to focus on stopping terrorists and protecting America, not investigating our soon to be President-Elect Hillary Clinton.”
In addition to this complaint filed against FBI Director Comey, the Democratic Coalition Against Trump also filed a complaint with the FBI earlier this week against Donald Trump personally for violating “Section 11 (b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” reports the Huffington Post. This complaint to the FBI by the Coalition is about voter suppression and voter intimidation that the group alleges has been committed by Donald Trump personally.
The Inquisitr reported this week on alleged voter suppression and intimidation tactics by Trump supporters during this election cycle, after a Huffington Post investigation into a Roger Stone-backed group known as Stop the Steal. The Huffington Post reports that the coalition filed a complaint personally against Donald Trump this week after noting his website references “ballot security” and “rigged election” comments, also noting at his rallies that he told voters to “watch polls in minority areas to prevent rigging.”
The Democratic Coalition Against Trump says this is against federal election law, reports the Huffington Post.
Whether FBI Director James Comey intends to provide more information about his recent letter to Republican congressmen is unclear at this time. It is being cited as a violation of the Hatch Act and is being viewed as interference with the election by the Democratic side of the aisle. Where those complaints with the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility will go remains to be seen, but answers on that are not likely before Election Day.
The Democratic Coalition Against Trump is a grassroots PAC and an arm of the Keep America Great PAC, whose initiative is “making sure that Donald Trump never becomes President.” They have chairs in all 50 states that include Democratic elected officials, party chairs, delegates, and activists. They also run the Artists Against Trump group that includes award-winning actor Danny Glover and The Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead.
[Feature Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]