Sun, Oct 30, 2016 - Page 1 News List

FBI reopens Clinton e-mail controversy; threatens campaign


Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

For more than a year, Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has been a reluctant participant in the e-mail controversy that has dogged her campaign, responding defensively to inquiries — and often only when there is a political imperative to do so.

On Friday, the imperative was clear.

The e-mail issue flared up unexpectedly just over a week from election day, threatening Clinton’s lead over Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The FBI announced it was looking into whether there was classified information on a device belonging to Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former US representative who is separated from longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin and is under investigation for sending sexually explicit text messages to a teenage girl.

Clinton stepped in swiftly, holding a brief, hastily arranged news conference in a high-school choir room in Des Moines, Iowa.

She asked FBI Director James Comey to release the full details of the new investigation, citing the crucial phase of the White House race.

“We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election of our lifetimes. Voting is already under way in our country,” Clinton said. “So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. The director himself has said he doesn’t know whether the e-mails referenced in his letter are significant or not.”

Clinton said neither she nor her advisers had been contacted by the FBI about the new inquiry.

The news arrived with Clinton holding a solid advantage in the presidential race. Early voting has been under way for weeks and she has a steady lead in preference polls both nationally and in key battleground states.

The development all but ensures that, even should she win the predisency, the Democrat and several of her closest aides would celebrate a victory a under a cloud of investigation.

Trump leaped on the FBI’s disclosure, accusing Clinton of corruption “on a scale we have never seen before.”

“We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire.

Clinton’s campaign was enraged by Comey’s decision to disclose the existence of the fresh investigation in a letter to several congressional leaders. It was not until hours later that word emerged that the source of the new e-mails was Weiner.

“It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election,” said John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

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