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FBI Reopens Probe Into Hillary Clinton's Email Server


The biggest controversy haunting Hillary Clinton's campaign has been given new life. The FBI investigation into Clinton's private email server is not over. More than three months after the Justice Department finished the probe with no criminal charges, the FBI director dropped a bombshell. James Comey told Congress that agents have discovered emails that appeared to be related to a review of classified information on the server that Clinton used as secretary of state. With us to talk about that development is NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. And Carrie, what exactly is the FBI looking at now?

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: The FBI director sent a letter to oversight committees in Congress saying his agents learned about emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton emails investigation. Now, in September, James Comey told members of Congress he'd look at any new information that emerged, and that's what's happening now. But in his letter, Jim Comey says he can't assess if any of this new material is significant, and he says he can't tell how long it will take to weed through all these documents. The FBI won't say just how many there are.

SIEGEL: How did these new messages come to light?

JOHNSON: Well, in his letter, the FBI director said the information emerged in an unrelated criminal case. He didn't say which one, but, Robert, a source told me it relates to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton's close aide Huma Abedin. Weiner's been under investigation for sexting, including with an under-aged girl.

And authorities seized some of his electronics, some of the electronics in the house, which led them to this new material. In other words, this is not anything the FBI missed on Clinton's server the first time around, and it's not clear whether Hillary Clinton sent or received any of these new messages. The key question now for the FBI is whether any of these new messages contain classified information.

SIEGEL: We are 11 days from the presidential election. Is the government saying anything about that?

JOHNSON: Well, the Justice Department has no comment. It's referring all questions to the FBI. But DOJ has some guidelines about elections. Its rules say prosecutors and investigators should be careful not to influence the outcome of any political race - strong traditions, normally for things like State House races, let alone the race for president of the United States. Now, the FBI director says he told Congress the matter was done a few months ago. Now it's not. That's why he's obliged to give them notice.

SIEGEL: And what has the Clinton campaign said about this?

JOHNSON: Her campaign chairman, John Podesta, put out a written statement saying the FBI director had already concluded no reasonable prosecutor would bring any case against Hillary Clinton. Podesta wants to see more information from the FBI. He's reiterating it's not clear whether this new material is even important.

And he says, quote, "we are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July." But Robert, I'm hearing from sources this investigation may not be over before the presidential election happens.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Carrie Johnson. Carrie, thank you.

JOHNSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.
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