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FBI clears Clinton over new emails

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FBI Director James Comey has abruptly announced that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t face criminal charges relating to newly discovered emails from her tenure at the State Department, lifting a cloud of uncertainty that has shadowed the final days of her presidential campaign.

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In a letter to congressional lawmakers two days before Election Day, Comey said the FBI has worked “around the clock to process and review a large number of emails” obtained from a device belonging to Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman and estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

Comey said the review has not changed the bureau’s assessment from earlier this year that Clinton should not be prosecuted for her handling of classified information at the State Department.

Clinton’s campaign welcomed the FBI announcement.

“We’re glad this matter is resolved,” Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director, told reporters traveling with the campaign to Ohio.

Clinton was infuriated by Comey’s decision to alert Congress late last month that the FBI was reviewing new materials, calling it “unprecedented” and “deeply troubling.” The decision shattered what had appeared to be Clinton’s solid grip on the race and emboldened Republican Donald Trump.

Trump landed in Minnesota for a rally moments after Comey’s announcement. He made no direct mention of the FBI decision and continued to insist -without evidence – that Clinton would be under investigation during her potential presidency.

“She’s protected by a rigged system,” he said. “She shouldn’t even be allowed to run for president.”

The FBI began investigating the handling of classified material on Clinton’s private server in New York shortly after she announced her bid in April 2015.

Last July, in an extraordinary public statement on an ongoing case, Comey announced he was not recommending criminal charges against Clinton and called the decision “not even a close call.”

But he also delivered blistering criticism of Clinton, calling her and her team “extremely careless” with her handling of national secrets.

Clinton had appeared to be heading for a sweeping victory before the FBI review, but Comey’s announcement blunted her momentum. Since then, national polls and battleground states have tightened, though Clinton still appears to hold an edge over Trump in the campaign’s last moments. – AP

The Clinton email scandal explained

It’s an issue that just won’t go away: Hillary Clinton’s emails during her term as secretary of state from 2009-13. It has dogged her presidential campaign for a long time – but what exactly is the core issue? Here is a summary:

Clinton had a private email server in the basement of her home in Chappaqua, New York, that she used not just for personal correspondence, but also official business as America’s top diplomat.

As Politfact, a fact-checking project set up by several newspapers, explains it, citing an expert, such a practice was not strictly forbidden.

The expert noted that this provided the necessary flexibility for her to react quickly to a diplomatic crisis. However, what was questionable was Clinton’s exclusive use of her private email account and not the State Department server that was more secure and less vulnerable to hacking attacks.

The FBI, in its investigations, concentrated its inquiry on whether secret classified information had been passed through Clinton’s private server. And if so, whether she had broken the law, in which case criminal charges could be raised.

In December 2014, Clinton handed over some 30,000 emails to the State Department and the FBI. With few exceptions, these have in the meantime been published.

However, Clinton also erased 31,000 further emails, those that she considered to be private matters. Among others, she said these mails concerned the wedding preparations for her daughter Chelsea, her mother’s funeral, a yoga class and family vacation plans.

These missing emails, however, have fuelled suspicions among her opponents and detractors that the information Clinton erased could cast doubts about her political competence.

In July, the top federal law enforcement agency concluded its investigations, finding that in fact several classified documents were passed along through her private server.

The FBI said Clinton ad acted extremely negligently – but that no charges should be raised against her because there was no evidence that she had acted with criminal intent. The Justice Department concurred with the FBI’s recommendation.

Then, in a surprise move, the FBI director told Congress in October that the agency had come across further emails that it says needs examining. The emails were not found on a Clinton computer, but rather on one confiscated from disgraced former New York congressman Anthony Weiner.

Weiner is under investigation amid allegations of sending prurient messages to an underaged girl. The connection to Clinton? Weiner is the estranged husband of Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin.

On Sunday, FBI Director James Comey said that after reviewing the latest batch of emails, the agency found there was no grounds to file criminal charges against Clinton, reaffirming the decision in July. – DPA

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