Clinton not to face criminal charges, says FBI; Trump cries foul

Washington, Nov 7 (IANS) FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers the agency has not changed its opinion that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges over her use of a personal e-mail server during her stay in the State Department, after a review of new e-mails.

The statement prompted rival Donald Trump, Republican candidate, to accuse the agency of impropriety.

Comey had dropped a bombshell ahead of the November 8 election when he informed Congress that the FBI had discovered e-mails in its separate investigation of Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, that could be connected to its investigation of whether Clinton mishandled classified information by using a private e-mail server, CNN reported.

“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July,” Comey said in a letter to top Republicans on the House Oversight Committee.

The Republican nominee cried foul after learning about the law enforcement bureau’s decision.

At a rally in the Detroit suburbs, Trump insisted it would have been impossible for the FBI to review as many as 650,000 emails in such a short time.

“Right now she’s being protected by a rigged system. It’s a totally rigged system. I’ve been saying it for a long time,” he told supporters in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

“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 8 November.”

Comey’s letter was the culmination of a fast-paced review of the newly discovered e-mails, law enforcement sources said on Sunday.

“We went through this as fast as we could,” a senior law enforcement official told CNN.

The e-mails, thousands found, were mostly duplicates of what had already been seen and personal e-mails, law enforcement officials said in explaining how the conclusion was reached so quickly. The laptop which was found was around a decade old, with lots of personal content on it not relevant to the investigation, according to one source.

It’s impossible to know before results are tallied what impact Comey’s actions — first raising a vaguely worded red flag, and then lowering it two days from the election — will have on the contest.

But the news could help Clinton put to rest a controversy that has dogged her in the 2016 race’s closing days, helping her rival Donald Trump narrow a polling gap nationally and in key battleground states.

While Clinton herself did not address the FBI director’s letter on the trail, her campaign said it was always confident she would be cleared.

on Sunday, she said the country was facing “a moment of reckoning” and Americans must choose between “division and unity”.

In July, the FBI said she had been “extremely careless” to handle classified material on a private email server as secretary of state from 2009-13, but it had found no evidence she committed a crime.

However, 11 days before the election, FBI director James Comey had pitched the race into turmoil by announcing a newly discovered batch of Clinton emails would be investigated.

The bombshell infuriated the Clinton camp, but threw a lifeline to a Trump campaign that had been receding in the polls.