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FBI won't pursue charges against Clinton

November 7, 2016 3:30 AM
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FBI Director James Comey said Sunday that the bureau had completed its examination of newly discovered emails connected to Hillary Clinton - an inquiry that had roiled the presidential race for nine days - and found nothing to alter its months-old decision not to seek charges against the former secretary of state for her use of a private email server.

In a letter to congressional committee chairmen, Comey said investigators had worked "around the clock" to review the emails. The investigators found that the emails were either duplicates of correspondence they had reviewed earlier or were personal emails that did not pertain to State Department business, government officials said.

The emails were on a computer used by former congressman Anthony Weiner - the estranged husband of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin - that was seized during an FBI investigation into lewd text messages that Weiner, D-N.Y., is alleged to have sent to a 15-year-old girl.

In late October, Comey said that some of the emails on the computer, sent or received by Abedin, may have been "pertinent" to an FBI investigation of a private server that Clinton used to conduct government business.

On Sunday, however, Comey said that after reviewing emails on the computer, "we have not changed our conclusions expressed in July."

A Clinton spokeswoman on Sunday made a brief statement to reporters on the Democratic nominee's plane: "We are glad to see that ... he has confirmed the conclusions that he reached in July," Jennifer Palmieri said of Comey. "We are glad that this matter is resolved."

This past summer, Comey had ended an FBI probe into the server by saying that although he believed Clinton was "extremely careless" with classified information in the emails, Comey felt that "no reasonable prosecutor" would recommend criminal charges.

One of the government officials said Comey's letter on Sunday was not an "interim report" but rather represented a conclusion of the investigation.

So, after nine days of uncertainty, the FBI's investigators had ended where they began.

Comey - a nine-day hero to some on the right - was now under criticism from both sides, for jumping into the late stages of a presidential race and then trying to jump back out.

The FBI itself had been drawn into partisan politics, as leaks revealed internal fights between agents and prosecutors fighting over proposed investigations of the Clinton family.

Republican Donald Trump, who had been trailing badly in the polls when the new emails were revealed, had narrowed the gap in that time, leaning on a message that Clinton was "crooked" and likely to be charged.

Clinton, who had been trying to expand the electoral map by focusing on red states including Georgia and Arizona, drew back to defend blue turf like Michigan and Pennsylvania. In those days, millions of votes were cast.

In Colorado, for instance, voters submit their ballots by mail. Daniel Cole, a Republican strategist in the state, said the number of Democrats returning ballots had been surging past the GOP total - until Comey announced his inquiry.

"There was an enthusiasm gap," Cole said. "Until the latest bend in the email scandal, the wind was kind of out of our sails."

Across the country, Clinton remained a clear favorite in the race, even before Comey's announcement that the new inquiry was over.

Clinton led by two to five points in national surveys, held narrow polling leads in a slew of swing states, and had been encouraged by a surge in early voting among Latinos in the key battlegrounds of Nevada and Florida.

During an afternoon rally in Cleveland, Clinton made no mention of Comey's decision, perhaps calculating that once again reminding voters of the original email investigation would do more harm than good.

Instead, she focused, as she has at other recent rallies, on an optimistic look ahead.

"I want an America where everyone has a place, where everyone is included," Clinton said. "And I know there is a lot of frustration, even anger, in this election season. I see it, I hear it, you know, I'm a subject of it. I get it. But anger is not a plan. Anger is not going to get us new jobs."

Sunday's event was Clinton's last scheduled visit to Ohio, where she has trailed Trump in most recent polls despite a heavy emphasis on turning out black voters in Cleveland. This rally included Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, an Ohio native. On Friday, husband and wife singers Jay Z and Beyoncé had performed at another Clinton rally in Cleveland.

In his first rally after the news broke, Trump called Clinton the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency, and he predicted that her term in office would be shadowed by investigations. Later Sunday, in Sterling Heights, Mich., he said: "Hillary Clinton is guilty. She's knows it. The FBI knows it. ... Now it's up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on Nov. 8."

Trump has been praised in recent days for avoiding the kind of insults and outbursts that had alienated voters in the past. A New York Times article on Sunday said that campaign aides have wrested away control of Trump's Twitter account, which the candidate had used to shoot himself in the metaphorical foot.

But on Sunday - while Clinton sought to lay out an optimistic, national message - Trump was in Minnesota, warning about a local immigrant population: Somalis, largely Muslim, who have left their war-ravaged country and settled in large numbers around Minneapolis.

"You don't even have the right to talk about it. You don't even know who's coming in. You have no idea. You'll find out. You'll find out," Trump said.

He mentioned a recent case in which 10 people were stabbed at a Minnesota mall. The attacker was a Somali man who had immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was 2. A news agency tied to the Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the man was a "soldier" for the group.

He said Clinton would allow more refugees to enter: "Her plan will import generations of terrorism."

In the last few days of the campaign, Trump has decided to invest time and resources in blue-leaning Midwestern states including Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Most recent opinion polls show Clinton leading in all three, but Trump is hoping for a surge among white voters who lack college degrees.


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