Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign hit by new email probe 11 days before election

FBI chief says in letter to US Congress reviewing new emails. but did not give timeframe on probe

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 October, 2016, 2:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 October, 2016, 11:30pm

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign was hit on Friday by the FBI’s reopening of its investigation into her use of a private email server while secretary of state, eroding a political boost from a strong US economic report.

With just 11 days to go before the November 8 election, FBI Director James Comey said in a letter to several congressional Republicans that the agency had learned of the existence of emails that appeared to be pertinent to its investigation.

However, he said the FBI did not know if the emails were significant and did not provide a time frame for the probe.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign angrily demanded Friday that the head of the FBI clarify his statement about again looking into her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

Campaign chairman John Podesta said FBI director James Comey “should immediately provide the American public more information” after a letter to lawmakers announced the bureau would review newly discovered emails.

“It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election,” Podesta said in a statement.

“The director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.”

Republican Donald Trump’s campaign reacted with glee. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said on Twitter that “a great day in our campaign just got even better.”

The resurrection of the email issue, which has dogged Clinton’s campaign from the start, dimmed a day that had featured good news for her effort to win the White House.

The Commerce Department reported that the economy grew at a 2.9 per cent annual rate in the third quarter, its fastest pace in two years and higher than the expected 2.6 per cent, thanks to a surge in exports and a rebound in investment.

The report had bolstered Clinton, who has positioned herself as the best candidate to continue years of economic expansion under Democratic President Barack Obama.

More Americans say jobs and the economy are their No. 1 priority when they decide who to vote for than any other issue.

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Trump argues that as a successful businessman and political outsider, he is the best person to take a new approach to rebuilding an economy that has sent too many jobs overseas and left many Americans struggling to find decent jobs.

His campaign said the figures are still not good enough.

“America can do better than the modest growth of 2.9 per cent recorded for the 3rd quarter and the dismal growth of 1.5 per cent for the past year,” Dan Kowalski, Trump’s deputy policy director, said in a statement.

While many voters do not follow economic indicators closely, outside experts said the release was still a good one for Clinton. She is seeking to solidify her lead in opinion polls as the Democratic Party works to win as many seats as possible in the US Senate and House of Representatives, where Republicans now control majorities.

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Clinton has also been looking to broaden the electoral map. Her campaign said on Friday that she would campaign in Arizona next week.

“Today’s release will likely improve the perception of economic conditions in the US and slightly increase the odds of a Democratic president remaining in the White House,” said Brian Schaitkin, senior economist at the Conference Board.

Clinton’s camp said Friday’s report showed “real progress” since Obama took office in 2009, when the country was struggling to emerge from economic recession.

“With more than 15 million jobs created since early 2010 and real median incomes growing more than 5 per cent last year, it’s clear we’ve made real progress coming back from the crisis,” Clinton senior policy advisor Jacob Leibenluft said in a statement.

But he added that there is still more that can be done.

Clinton was campaigning on Friday in Iowa, where polls show she and Trump running neck-and-neck, and in Michigan, a traditionally Democratic state hit hard by the movement offshore of many formerly well-paying American manufacturing jobs.

Trump was holding rallies in Iowa as well as in another closely contested swing state, New Hampshire, and in Maine, where his campaign sees a chance to grab one of four electoral votes.