Furor continues to build over Friday’s FBI’s announcement that it is reviewing a new batch of emails that could pertain to Hillary Clinton’s handling of electronic communication as secretary of state — a case the FBI had closed months ago.
“It’s just extremely puzzling,” said Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine on ABC’s This Week program. “I just have no way of understanding these actions. They are completely unprecedented.”
“There’s this constant cloud of corruption that follows Hillary Clinton around,” said Republican Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, also on This Week. “And for the FBI to make this remarkable move 11 days before the election means there must be something there.”
The FBI’s action, less than two weeks before Election Day, set off a political frenzy — in part because the content and relevance of the emails are unknown and could remain so when Americans cast ballots on November 8.
“It’s pretty strange to put something like that out, with such little information, right before an election,” said Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, at a campaign event.
Trump, meanwhile, seized on a chance to underscore a central line of attack on Clinton.
“A vote for Hillary is a vote to surrender our government to public corruption, graft, cronyism that threatens the survival of our Constitution itself,” the Republican presidential nominee said.
The latest emails were uncovered in a separate FBI investigation of the estranged husband of a top Clinton aide. On Friday, FBI Director James Comey informed members of Congress of the existence of new material and the bureau’s intention to examine it.
Democrats cried foul.
“It happens close to an election, which is in violation of normal Justice Department protocol, and it involves talking about an ongoing investigation, which also violates the protocol,” Kaine said. “And as far as we know now, Director Comey knows nothing about the content of these emails. We don’t know if they are to or from Hillary at all. And so this is a distraction.”
The criticism from Democrats is a reversal from July, when they cheered Comey’s conclusion that no criminal charges should be brought against Clinton for using a private email server in her home to store communications during her tenure as President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state.
Republicans suggested the new emails must contain something noteworthy precisely because of the FBI’s unusual move.
“We don’t know what the basis was for Mr. Comey making the decision,” said the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte, on This Week. “We do know they know something is there.”
Millions of Americans already have cast early ballots in states across the country. What effect the FBI announcement might have on turnout is unclear, but polls showed a tightening race between Clinton and Trump even before Friday’s bombshell.