Hillary Clinton’s campaign was jolted when FBI Director James Comey delivered the ultimate October surprise.
Eleven days before the 2016 presidential election, Comey announced that the FBI had discovered additional emails and is reviewing them to see whether they are related to the bureau’s investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified information.
Here’s what you need to know — and how it might affect Clinton, Donald Trump and the presidential race:
It started with the FBI’s investigation into Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former New York congressman who was caught over the summer exchanging lewd and sexually suggestive messages with a 15-year-old girl.
Weiner’s estranged wife is Clinton adviser Huma Abedin. And in their look into Weiner’s sexting allegations, which began on September 22, investigators from the FBI’s New York field office discovered Abedin’s emails on Weiner’s laptop — with initial data showing those emails went through Clinton’s server.
It was enough to lead FBI Director James Comey to conclude the emails would need to be reviewed to see if he’d need to reopen the investigation he’d closed in July on whether Clinton kept classified information on the private email server she used during her tenure as secretary of state.
Comey was made aware of the emails’ existence by mid-October, law enforcement sources have said. He was given a full briefing on Thursday.
Comey decided Friday after a series of “long grueling meetings” with top FBI executives that the FBI needed to review to see whether the emails were related to its investigation into Clinton’s server, and a letter would be sent to Congress about the development, a law enforcement source told CNN.
And so, on Friday — 11 days from the election — Comey informed eight Senate and House chairmen, who are Republicans, and copied the ranking Democrats on their panels.
Everything about this is beyond precedent.
There’s never been a major party nominee under FBI investigation leading up to the election before. And how it’s being handled is equally out of the ordinary.
Comey gave advance notice to top officials at the Justice Department before sending his letter to lawmakers Friday — but he didn’t get sign-off from those officials, and wasn’t seeking it. Instead he made an independent decision to go against longstanding Justice Department and FBI practice to not comment publicly about politically sensitive investigations within 60 days of an election, a law enforcement official said.
Comey’s decision adds to the unusual role he has played in the Clinton email probe, which some critics have said usurped the role of prosecutors in the Justice Department whose job is to review FBI findings and make decisions on whether to bring charges.
Read More: CNN