WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — A second campaign shockwave from FBI director came Sunday – this time clearing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the renewed investigation of her use of a private email server.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, Comey said the latest review has “not changed our conclusions” from earlier this year that she should not face charges.
Comey sent the letter Sunday, just two days before Election Day.
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton,” Comey wrote in the letter.
Comey reached his decision Sunday shortly before sending the latest letter to Congress, a law enforcement source told CBS News.
Comey sought input from others before making the final decision, the source said. He also had interaction with the Department of Justice – though it is not known whether he was in direct contract with Attorney General Loretta Lynch or her representatives, the source said.
The bulk of emails to and from Clinton which were discovered on former U.S. Rep. and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s laptop were found to be either personal emails or duplicates of emails previously reviewed by the FBI, the source said. Others had to be painstakingly investigated to determine if they contained sensitive national security matters, the source said.
Dozens of FBI agents worked as fast as they could to conduct a comprehensive and thorough review, and the assistance of special software helped in the efficiency of the process, the source said.
In July, Comey chastised Clinton’s use of the private mail server but said that the bureau would not be recommending criminal charges against the Democratic nominee.
But in a surprise move, Comey wrote to Congress on Oct. 28 – barely 10 days before Election Day – to say the FBI was taking steps to review new emails relating to the Clinton case.
They were found on the computer belonging to Weiner, who is the estranged husband of Clinton’s close aide Huma Abedin. Weiner is under investigation on suspicion that he sexted with an underage girl.
“Since my letter, the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. During that process we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State,” FBI Director James Comey wrote in a letter released Sunday.
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton. 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.”
Campaigning Sunday with Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, Clinton did not address the issue. But her campaign spokeswoman did.
“We have seen Director Comey’s latest letter to the Hill,” she said. “We were glad to see that as we expected, he has found as we were confident that he would that he has confirmed the conclusions that he reached in July and we’re glad this matter is resolved.”
In Michigan Sunday evening, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump criticized Comey’s leter, and stuck to his claim that Clinton is crooked.
“You can’t review 650,000 new emails in eight days,” Trump said. “You can’t do it, folks.”
Trump added: “The investigations into her crimes will go on for a long, long time. The rank-and-file special agents at the FBI won’t let her get away with her terrible crimes.”
Trump claimed once again that Clinton has been protected by a rigged system.
“Hillary Clinton is guilty! She knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know it, and now it’s up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on November 8!” Trump said.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the FBI’s initial findings about Clinton’s email practices were “a damning and unprecedented indictment of her judgment” – and that the new statement doesn’t change anything.
“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,” he said in a statement. “None of this changes the fact that the FBI continues to investigate the Clinton Foundation for corruption involving her tenure as secretary of state.”
Meanwhile, Republican presidential nominee Mike Pence suggested he was not satisfied with the FBI’s conclusion.
Pence told a raucous crowd in Hickory, North Carolina, that “mishandling classified information is a crime.”
“Hillary Clinton – let’s remember what we know,” Pence said. “Hillary Clinton said that she never sent or received any classified information, and the head of the FBI told Congress classified information was sent.”
Democrats Sunday night said Comey’s move proved he never should have sent the first letter to Congress. The letter gave Trump a boost in the polls.
As of Sunday night, the race was in a virtual dead heat with a slight edge for Clinton nationwide. Election Day is coming up on Tuesday, but 41 million Americans have already cast their ballots in early voting states.
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