Justice Dept. officials opposed Comey's release of new info on Clinton email probe

By Eric DuVall  |  Updated Oct. 29, 2016 at 4:55 PM
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LANGLEY, Va., Oct. 29 (UPI) -- FBI Director Jim Comey's decision to alert congressional Republicans to the existence of new emails pertinent to the Hillary Clinton email investigation was opposed by his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and went against longstanding Justice Department policy not to comment publicly on the status of an ongoing investigation, according to media reports.

Comey said he made the decision to go public with the revelation there are more emails that need to be reviewed because he told Congress under oath that the Clinton private email server investigation was completed, a fact that was no longer true when the new emails came to light.

"Of course, we don't ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I felt an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed," Comey wrote in a memo to FBI employees published by multiple media outlets. "I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record."

In response to Friday's revelation -- just 11 days before the election, with early voting taking place in more than 30 states -- Clinton challenged the FBI to release all the emails immediately so voters could make their judgment and cast ballots without an undue cloud of suspicion hanging over her campaign.

"Voting is underway, so the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately," Clinton said at a brief news conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday adding it was "imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay."

Speaking to supporters in Daytona, Fla., on Saturday, Clinton called Comey's admission "strange" and "deeply troubling." She urged supporters to remain focused on the election and not be "distracted" by "what they throw at us in these last days."

Comey acknowledged in his memo that investigators have not reviewed any of the emails, which reportedly number more than 1,000, to determine whether they contained classified information or would alter the bureau's conclusion in July that the case did not meet the standard for criminal prosecution. He also said it was possible that acknowledging the existence of the emails without also being able to say whether they are relevant could create a "misleading impression."

The Washington Post reported Comey notified Attorney General Loretta Lynch of his intention to tell Congress about the new information in the Clinton case and Lynch warned him against the inevitable political fallout from doing so, but ultimately did not order him not to do it. Justice Department leadership told Comey speaking publicly about the status of an ongoing investigation at any time would be at odds with longstanding FBI policy, especially one as politically charged as Clinton's use of a private email server at a time when the presidential election is effectively underway.

Republicans have seized on the revelation of new emails, which were found on a computer shared by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her former husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, during the FBI's unrelated investigation into whether Weiner knowingly sent sexually explicit messages to a minor.

GOP nominee Donald Trump told a throng of raucous supporters at a rally in New Hampshire on Friday the case was being "reopened" -- a term Comey avoided in his letter to Congress.

"Hillary Clinton's corruption is on a scale we've never seen before," Trump said. "We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office."

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