FBI Says No Charges To Be Filed In New Review Related To Clinton Email Server

Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images.
Update: FBI Director James Comey confirmed that no charges will be filed in the wake of the discovery of new Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner's computer. In a letter to Congress sent on Sunday, Comey says the FBI's conclusions remain the same and that Clinton should not face charges, the Associated Press reports.
This story was originally published on October 30.

Explaining Hillary Clinton's emails
is something media outlets have had to do a lot this election season. With Friday's revelation that the FBI had discovered new emails related to the investigation into Clinton's private email server, it seems it's time to explain all over again. In a letter to congressional leaders, FBI Director James Comey wrote, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. [The] investigative 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 assess their importance to our investigation.” Comey didn't go into detail in the letter, but did state that the FBI did not yet know whether the emails would be “significant,” and could not say how long the investigation would take. The lack of clarity left many confused or worse, coming up with worst-case scenarios. Here's what we do know and what we don't.

Where did these emails come from?

According to Vox, the new emails the FBI are reviewing "weren’t from Clinton’s server, [and] they didn’t appear to have been deliberately withheld from the FBI." The emails were discovered in an unrelated investigation, according to the FBI.
These emails instead were reportedly found on a device belonging to former congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. According to NBC reporter Pete Williams, the new emails were discovered on a laptop of Weiner's that was seized after he was accused of sending inappropriate text messages and pictures to an underage girl. The New York Times reported that unnamed sources close to Abedin said she was unsure how the emails ended up on Weiner's computer, and suggested it was possible they had been automatically backed up.

Yahoo News
reported that after reviewing Abedin's interview with the FBI last April during the Clinton email probe, she "hinted that there might be relevant material on her husband’s personal devices. But agents do not appear to have followed up on the clues." According to Politico, an FBI spokeswoman released a statement explaining, "At this time we can confirm the letter and can tell you that the newly discovered emails are not related to the WikiLeaks or any hacks. We cannot comment further."

What do the new emails contain?

At this point, we don’t really know. Though the emails were reportedly discovered several weeks ago, according to CNN, the FBI was not able to investigate their contents because its search warrant was limited to information relevant to the investigation into Weiner. The FBI obtained a warrant to examine the emails on Monday morning. The Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times reported that the emails did not appear to be to or from Clinton, and were likely duplicates of emails that have already been investigated. Abedin did have an email address on Clinton's personal server, and some of her mail passed though the server. The FBI is investigating whether the new emails contain any classified information, and if the cache contains any emails that were deleted off Clinton’s private server prior to the FBI’s investigation, according to CNN. In July, the FBI found that "[Clinton and her staff] were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information," but did not believe that Clinton's lawyers intentionally deleted or looked to conceal the additional work-related emails that surfaced as part of the investigation. The FBI did not uncover sufficient evidence to recommend criminal charges in the case.

Why did Comey release this letter?

According to Newsweek, Comey didn't have a choice. "Under oath, Comey had stated that the bureau had completed its review. Once he learned that there were new emails that required examination, Comey had to notify Congress that he had to amend his testimony because it was no longer true." Comey's letter doesn't suggest a criminal act took place, but that "evidence that has not yet been examined needs to be reviewed because it is relevant to the case." As Newsweek points out, the letter doesn't actually say that the case has been reopened, despite Republicans using that wording on the campaign trail. However, there are questions as to whether Comey violated FBI policies in releasing the letter. Former Attorney General Eric Holder published a criticism of Comey’s actions in The Washington Post on Sunday night, calling his decision to release the letter “incorrect,” and accusing him of missteps in terms of what information he released to the public regarding investigation into Clinton’s emails. "The department has a practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations," Holder wrote. "Indeed, except in exceptional circumstances, the department will not even acknowledge the existence of an investigation."

What has been the reaction from the Justice Department?

The Associated Press reported that, according to a government official, the Justice Department "discouraged" the FBI from alerting Congress of these new emails being that it was so close to the election. The Justice Department reportedly expressed concern that informing Congress would be "inconsistent with department protocols designed to avoid the appearance of interference in an election."

The New York Times
also reported that the Justice Department "strongly discouraged" Comey's letter and told him that he would go against policies that urge justice officials against talking about current criminal investigations during an election year. “There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election,” George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general under former President George Bush, told The New York Times. “Those guidelines exist for a reason. Sometimes, that makes for hard decisions. But bypassing them has consequences.” Despite concerns from the Justice Department, Comey acted independently, sending the letter to several members of Congress.

What has the response from Democrats and Republicans been?

In a press conference on Friday, Clinton said that the American people deserve “the full and complete facts” regarding the emails Comey references in his letter. She also said she was "confident" these new findings would not change the results of the previous findings, but that it was "imperative" that all information regarding these new emails be shared with the public. “We are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has," she said. "Let’s get it out.” Meanwhile, Donald Trump told a crowd in New Hampshire, “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.” Trump added, “Perhaps, finally, justice will be done." According to the BBC, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta called the letter "long on innuendo" and "short on facts." He also said that there is "no evidence of wrongdoing. No charge of wrongdoing. No indication this is even about Hillary". In an email statement via The New York Times, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said that Clinton should no longer be allowed to receive classified briefings. “Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame,” he wrote. “She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.” Donna Brazile, the interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, criticized the FBI for interfering in the election. "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," Brazile said. According to the BBC, leading Democratic senators have written to Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to give more details on the emails and the investigation by Monday.
In a press conference on Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the White House would neither “criticize nor defend” the FBI’s action in investigating the newly found emails. He said that President Obama believed Comey was “a man of integrity” with a “very difficult job.” Obama has endorsed Clinton in her campaign to be his successor.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include more recent information. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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