After rocking the 2016 presidential election last month by announcing that the FBI had discovered emails in a separate investigation that could be connected to the now-closed case of Hillary Clinton private email server, James Comey revealed on Sunday that the agency’s fast-paced email probe in Clinton matter found mostly duplicates of messages already seen and personal emails.
It’s impossible to know before results are tallied what impact Comey’s actions —first raising a vaguely worded red flag 11 days out, and then lowering it two days from the election— will have on the contest. Millions of people have already cast ballots during the days in which all that was known was that the FBI was re-investigating Clinton’s emails.
The move infuriated Democrats and emboldened Republican nominee Donald Trump in the final week of the campaign.
The political benefit for Trump has been that Republicans who’d been skeptical of their party’s nominee have largely followed vice presidential nominee Mike Pence’s calls to “come home” to the party.
It’s not just Trump’s campaign that seized on Comey’s actions. Down-ballot Republicans, particularly Senate candidates who had been forced to answer for Trump’s statements for months, used the moment to change the topic and attack Clinton.
But Comey’s new letter could help Clinton put to rest a controversy that has dogged her in the 2016 race’s closing days, helping Trump narrow a polling gap nationally and in key battleground states.
“Congrats to the FBI for working so hard to clear up the suspicion it needlessly created.Next time, maybe just stick to the rules,” former Justice Department spokesman and Clinton supporter Matthew Miller wrote on Twitter.