WASHINGTON – FBI Director James Comey blinked on Sunday – once again, closing the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email policies.
Comey made half the country angry with him when he closed the criminal investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton months ago, despite acknowledging she lied to the agency, lied about not passing classified information on her personal, insecure server and broke counter-espionage laws for which others are serving prison time.
He got the other half of the country angry at him when he reopened the criminal investigation just over a week ago.
Now, amid pressure from the Justice Department and, reportedly, from President Barack Obama, he has closed the case again, he announced to Congress Sunday.
In a letter sent to House and Senate committee leaders, Comey said FBI agents had completed their review of all messages to or from Clinton on a laptop seized last month from former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of a Clinton aide, and had found nothing worthy of prosecution.
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton,” Comey wrote. “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.”
The disclosure, just two days before Election Day, could undercut a boost Donald Trump appeared to enjoy in some polls taken after Comey’s disclosure late last month about the newly-discovered set of email messages.
Clinton’s campaign immediately claimed that Comey’s latest missive put to rest any new concerns about the email issue.
“We’re glad this matter is resolved,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said.
Not so fast, said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. He pointed out quickly that an active criminal investigation of the Clinton Foundation presumably continues.
“The FBI’s findings from its criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s secret email server were a damning and unprecedented indictment of her judgment. The FBI found evidence Clinton broke the law, that she placed highly classified national security information at risk and repeatedly lied to the American people about her reckless conduct. None of this changes the fact that the FBI continues to investigate the Clinton Foundation for corruption involving her tenure as secretary of state. Hillary Clinton should never be president.”
Last week, Fox News cited two sources with intimate knowledge of the FBI’s investigations as saying the agency’s probes into the Clinton Foundation continue to be a “very high priority” among local agents on the ground.
Agents have interviewed and re-interviewed multiple people on the foundation case, which is looking into possible pay-for-play interaction between then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. The FBI’s White Collar Crime Division is handling the investigation.
Comey threw the presidential contest into an uproar and unleashed a firestorm of criticism from inside and outside his own ranks after he told Congress on Oct. 28 that he’d instructed investigators to take steps to examine new evidence in the Clinton email probe. It soon emerged that the new evidence was a trove of email messages found on a laptop the FBI obtained during a probe into alleged sexting with a minor by Weiner.
Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, had counseled Comey against sending the letter. They warned that doing so violated a Justice Department tradition of not taking such politically sensitive steps in the 60 days before an election.
Among those who joined in the chorus of criticism of Comey was Obama.
Trump, however, seized on Comey’s original letter to lawmakers as proof of Clinton’s corruption, and he warned voters that the former secretary of state would likely be found guilty soon after taking office.
The Republican nominee also heaped praise on Comey himself.
“It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made, in light of the kind of opposition he had, where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution,” he told a Michigan rally on Oct. 31. “He’s gotta hang tough. A lot of people want him to do the wrong thing. What he did was the right thing.”