What to Know About the FBI's Decision on Hillary Clinton's Emails

Nov 06, 2016

FBI Director James Comey said on Sunday that it would stand by its decision to not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton after examining additional emails related to the Democratic candidate's use of a private email server.

In a note to congressional committee chairs, Comey said the FBI had not changed its "conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton," providing another twist in the 2016 election.

Here is what to know about the FBI's decision.

What were the new emails?

The FBI reviewed emails found on a device belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, the former congressman Anthony Weiner. Weiner is under investigation for allegedly sending sexually explicit text messages to a minor.

The FBI said the newly discovered emails were pertinent to its investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server, which the bureau completed in July.

What was the reaction to Comey's October announcement?

Comey's late October note to a congressional chairman announcing that the newly-discovered emails warranted investigation set off a torrent of accusations and proved to be extremely controversial among Democrats, Republicans and government officials.

The FBI usually does not comment on ongoing investigations, especially when one involves a major-party candidate for president so close to an election. Comey's announcement, which contained little detail, was criticized by several current and former Justice Department officials who said he broke with department protocol. President Obama criticized the director for deviating from the "norm" by releasing the letter.

What was the FBI's July decision?

Comey in July said that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring a criminal case against Clinton for using a private email server. Although he criticized her handling of her emails, Comey said the FBI found "no intentional misconduct."

What was the reaction from Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump?

Trump was gleeful over the news, pivoting from constant criticism of the FBI to praising the bureau for reopening the investigation. “I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made,” he said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Clinton said that Comey should release the information he had. “We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election in our lifetimes. Voting is already underway in our country,” she said. “So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately."

Did the FBI announcement affect polling?

After Comey's announcement, races in six battleground states swung in favor of Trump, according to at least one measure. Nationally, however, Clinton has maintained her lead as voters see her as the most qualified candidate. According to the final national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted after Comey's announcement, Clinton holds a four-point lead over Trump with 44% support from likely voters in a four-way matchup, while Trump receives 40%.

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