FBI announces it has not changed mind on charges
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Just before the final hours of Polling FBI swung into action and cleared the path of White House for Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton received an unexpected boost to her campaign with just hours left before the US presidential election as the FBI announced on Sunday night that it had found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in her use of a private email server.
James Comey, the FBI director, took the nation by surprise when he released a second letter in which he said the FBI had not changed its conclusions from its first report on Mrs Clinton in July.
The announcement, made as Americans prepared to go to the polls on Tuesday, lifted a shadow left hanging over the Democrat candidate. It followed a surge of support from Hispanic voters in the latest polls.
The announcement will raise further questions about the role of the FBI in the campaign, its impact on the democratic process and the timing of its statements.
The agency had already been plunged into controversy when the inquiry into the latest tranche of emails was announced during the course of the campaign.
Mr Comey said in his new letter: “Since my letter, the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation.
“During that process we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state. Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton. I am very grateful to the professionals at the FBI for doing an extraordinary amount of high-quality work in a short period of time.”
Mr Comey had announced nine days ago that new emails were being investigated. They had been found on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the disgraced estranged husband of Huma Abedin, a top Clinton aide. He is under a separate investigation for allegedly sexting an underage girl.
The Clinton campaign immediately responded, welcoming the move.
“We are glad to see that he has found, as we were confident that he would, that he’s confirmed the conclusions that he reached in July,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign’s communications manager. “And we’re glad that this matter is resolved.”
Last night’s announcement is expected to help Hillary further.
Kellyanne Conway, Mr Trump’s campaign manager, said Mr Comey had “mishandled the investigation from the beginning” and questioned the idea that the FBI could have carried out a thorough investigation in such a short time, but told MSNBC that the announcement would have no effect on the race.
Speaking to a rally in Minnesota, Mr Trump said: “She’s the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the US. Clinton will be under investigation for a long time for the many crimes against her [name]. It’s a rigged system and she’s protected.”
The FBI was already under huge pressure from Democrats to explain why it took the unprecedented decision to make public so close to an election that it was investigating a new batch of emails related to Mrs Clinton.
Theresa May said on Sunday night that elections should be “calm and measured” and focused on issues as she spoke about the tone of the US presidential election.
Asked if she would repeat criticism of Mr Trump, voiced when she was home secretary, Mrs May said: “I take a simple view about the way in which I like to see campaigns being conducted; I like them to be conducted in a calm and measured way with proper consideration of the issues.”
Trump: ‘Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it, The FBI knows it. The people know it.’
In Moon township, west Pennsylvania, Trump lashed out at Hillary Clinton – calling her “the most corrupt person ever to run for president of the United States.” On the email investigation, he said: “Hillary Clinton is guilty. The FBI knows it. She knows it. The people know it… We are to deliver justice at the ballot box.” He accused the media of double standards and said the political system was “rigged.” Trump joked that if he’d been caught being fed debate questions in advance, as he says Clinton was, “they’d reinstitute the electric chair.”
Speaking to an audience of several thousand in an industrial area, he also promised to bring back steel and coal jobs. He said that refugee programmes will be suspended, which received a loud cheer”, and that Clinton created Isis by creating “a vacuum” of power in the Middle East. “We are fighting for every forgotten man, woman and child in this nation… Dream big. We are just two days away from the change you’ve been waiting for your entire life.”
Trump campaign manager: ‘Maybe the foundation is still under investigation’
Kellyanne Conway was asked repeatedly whether it was irresponsible for Donald Trump to speculate that the FBI had found the “motherload” on Hillary Clinton and that she would face indictment.
“Everybody speculated for nine days,” she said.
If FBI conclusions remain unchanged, that means she still was reckless & careless, still lied about classified info.
The Trump response
Donald Trump is speaking in Michigan, and lashing out against the “rigged system” that he claims allowed Hillary Clinton to avoid charges over her emails
Trump says FBI didn’t really review emails: “you cant review 650,000 emails in eight days. You cant do it folks. Hillary Clinton is guilty.”
Democrats asking questions
More from Ruth Sherlock, on the reaction from the other side of the aisle:
Democrats in congress warned last night that there would be “many questions” into the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email scandal, as pressure mounted on its director to explain his actions.
Whilst Mr Comey’s announcement brought profound relief to Mrs Clinton’s campaign, it did little to stem the outrage of Democratic politicians who said Mr Comey’s initial intervention was illegitimately influencing the election, and accused the FBI of meddling in partisan politics.
“It’s impossible to fully undo the damage of the last nine days,” a senior Democrat said, speaking on condition of anonymity, in the hours after Mr Comey cleared Mrs Clinton’s name.
Tim Kaine, Mrs Clinton’s vice presidential running mate over the weekend attacked the FBI as being a “leaky sieve” that was “actively working” to hand Donald Trump the presidency.
“This just absolutely staggering,” he said, calling it a “massive blow” to the “integrity” of the agency.
But other Democrats had a harder time hiding their annoyance.
“Congrats to the FBI for working so hard to clear up the suspicion it needlessly created,” former Justice Department spokesman and Clinton supporter Matthew Miller wrote on Twitter. “Next time, maybe just stick to the rules though?”
Republican fury at Comey
Republicans in congress reacted with fury to the FBI director’s announcement clearing Hillary Clinton of criminal wrongdoing two days before the election.
James Comey caused a second shock to the presidential race on Sunday, stating the agency had not changed its conclusions on Mrs Clinton’s use of a private email whilst she was secretary of state.
“None of this changes the fact that the FBI continues to investigate the Clinton Foundation for corruption involving her tenure as secretary of state,” said Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
“Hillary Clinton should never be president.”
Paul Ryan, the Republican house speaker said that, despite Mr Comey’s findings, Mrs Clinton’s handling of classified information on a private email server when she was secretary of state has “put our nations secrets at risk”.
And Newt Gingrich, a top Republican ally of Donald Trump last night accused him of caving to political pressure and questioned how he could come to the conclusion so quickly.
How we got here
The winding road that led us to Mr Comey’s announcement today
- Congress probes Hillary Clinton over her role in the Benghazi attack that killed a US ambassador
- During that investigation, it is determined that Mrs Clinton used a private email server to conduct government business
- The FBI launches an investigation into whether Mrs Clinton knowingly put America’s secrets at risk through her email practices
- James Comey announces in July that “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue criminal charges against Mrs Clinton
- Mr Comey sends a letter to members of Congress on October 28 stating that new “pertinent” emails had been found, and that Mrs Clinton is once again under investigation
- It emerges that the emails were taken from the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former Congressman and estranged husband to Huma Abedin, a top Clinton aide
- Donald Trump calls the news “bigger than Watergate”, Democrats accuse Mr Comey of inappropriately influencing the election
- Mr Comey announces that nothing was found in the new emails that changed his decision from July
Trump: ‘Clinton corrupt, no matter what FBI says’
Donald Trump has described Hillary Clinton as the “most corrupt person ever to seek the Presidency” less than half an hour after the FBI cleared her.
The Republican candidate refused to change tack despite the announcement by the head of the FBI, saying that “it’s a rigged system and she’s protected”.
Mr Trump had put the FBI’s investigation at the heart of his campaign and enjoyed a surge in the polls after it was formally re-opened last month.
The rally in Minneapolis was part of a dash through six states in the final 48 hours of the election campaign, Mr Trump was defiant.
Speaking to 4,500 people in an airport hanger, he said: “She’s the most corrupt person ever to seek the Presidency of the US. Clinton will be under investigation for a long time for the many crimes against her. It’s a rigged system and she’s protected.”
Trump and Clinton spokespeople argue it out on Twitter
Kellyanne Conway, Mr Trump’s campaign manager, responds to Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon on Twitter.
She says if the Clinton camp was so confident of the outcome why did they attack Mr Comey over the last week.
Still, the Trump camp is going to have to accept they’ve lost this one. Mrs Clinton is definitely not going to be locked up.
Paul Ryan says Hillary Clinton still “put the nation’s secrets at risk”
Paul Ryan, the Republican House Speaker, said: “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. She simply believes she’s above the law and always plays by her own rules.
“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.”
What Pollsters say
Though Clinton’s lead in the polls had been shrinking prior to then, her aides and several pollsters said that the news won’t help the dampened enthusiasm among Democratic voters and further hurt her standing.
What about early voters?
Once again, a late development in this election leaves early voters scratching their heads.
The effect of Sunday’s news on the election is hard to predict. Millions of people have already cast ballots during the days in which all that was known was that the FBI was re-investigating Clinton’s emails.
Additionally, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and his surrogates have spent the past week arguing that an indictment against Clinton was in the offing. They even put out television advertisement highlighting the role played by Anthony Weiner in the saga.
The Clinton campaign was relatively muted in its initial response to the news.
More than 40 million people have already voted.
Those who did so over the last week did so with the knowledge that the FBI was investigating a new batch of potentially explosive Clinton-related emails. Now it’s not.
The question is did it affect anyone’s vote?
Read further stories:
Early Voting may break hearts
Hillary Bhakt U.S Media
Trumpet Sounded: And there came hail and fire
A crooked Election
Leaked Emails predicted Trump’s rise
Along with thanks and compliments to the sources for the shared data
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