FBI Director James Comey's announcement that the bureau had discovered a new trove of Hillary Clinton emails roiled the presidential campaign with little more than a week before the vote.
The Friday disclosure -- Comey sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as he considered himself legally bound to do -- brought Clinton's political momentum to a halt, raising again questions about the Democratic nominee's habits of secrecy.
"Perhaps, finally, justice will be done," Donald Trump said at a New Hampshire rally on Friday. He compared the scandal to Watergate.
In an unusually prompt response to the news, Clinton held a brief press conference and answered questions about the newly discovered emails. "We are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has," she said. "Let's get it out."
Clinton and her campaign questioned why Comey had revealed the existence of the emails at such a delicate point in the presidential race, while Clinton opponents seized on the discovery as yet another example of her lack of transparency. The emails surfaced through an ongoing investigation of Anthony Weiner, the former New York congressman who sent suggestive texts to an underage girl. Weiner is married to longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
As damaging as the disclosure quickly became, the FBI review "has virtually nothing to do with any actions taken by the Democratic nominee, according to government records and an official with knowledge of the investigation," Newsweek reported.
There is no indication the emails in question were withheld by Clinton during the investigation, the law enforcement official told Newsweek, nor does the discovery suggest she did anything illegal. Also, none of the emails were to or from Clinton, the official said. Moreover, despite the widespread claims in the media that this development had prompted the FBI to “reopen” of the case, it did not; such investigations are never actually closed, and it is common for law enforcement to discover new information that needs to be examined.
In addition to damaging Clinton, even if only temporarly, the FBI's move also brought sharp criticism for Director Comey, who had been a favorite of Democratic lawmakers. He told bureau employees that he felt obligated to inform Congress of the existence of new emails. “At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression,” he said, according to Newsweek.
Regardless of Comey's intentions, though, the email issue disrupted what had been a good month for Clinton and a problem-filled one for Trump. The subject immediately dominated coverage of the campaign and put the Clinton camp, which had exuded growing confidence, on the defensive.
Voters' doubts about Clinton's trustworthiness and integrity have dogged the campaign from the beginning. Just two months ago, newly released documents drew attention to the connections between the Clinton-led State Department and the Clinton Foundation on a half-dozen controversial issues including arm sales, the oil and coal industries, and Wall Street.
With 10 days to go before the presidential vote, it remains unclear how many emails are involved and whether they contain classified or sensitive information. The FBI has not said when its review of the material could be completed and made public.