Clinton Campaign Responds To FBI Renewing Email Investigation | WYPR

Clinton Campaign Responds To FBI Renewing Email Investigation

Oct 29, 2016
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The big news today, as you have no doubt heard by now, is ongoing reaction to FBI Director James Comey's decision to make it known that he is investigating new information about Hillary Clinton and emails. Here's Hillary Clinton in Daytona Beach, Fla., reacting this afternoon.

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HILLARY CLINTON: It's pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election.

MARTIN: Here's what we know - earlier this summer, the FBI said it would not recommend criminal charges for Clinton's mishandling of emails by using a private email server during her time at the State Department. But yesterday, the FBI director said in a letter to Congress that his agency is now looking at a different set of emails. Those emails, officials say, were discovered on devices belonging to Hillary Clinton's top aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband Anthony Weiner.

The emails were discovered in a separate investigation into allegations that Anthony Weiner sent sexually-explicit texts to a teenage girl, NPR has confirmed. Today, NPR is reporting that the Justice Department warned the FBI director against sending the letter to Congress because of the potential political consequences. In a few minutes, we're going to speak with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about that.

But first, we want to get a sense of the political fallout today. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson is traveling with the Clinton campaign. Mara, thanks so much for joining us.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Happy to be here.

MARTIN: So what was the reaction within the Clinton campaign when this news broke?

LIASSON: Well, they're absolutely furious. They feel that Comey has to say more. Comey hasn't said what's in the emails, how many there are. He said in his letter to Congress he doesn't even know whether they're significant or not. And he said in a memo to FBI employees that there was a large risk of this being misunderstood. So this is a real problem for the Clinton campaign, and they're not happy about it.

MARTIN: Meanwhile, one would assume that the Trump campaign and its supporters have been talking this up.

LIASSON: Absolutely, they're thrilled. Donald Trump says this is bigger than Watergate. And here's a little bit of what he had to say.

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DONALD TRUMP: I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made.

LIASSON: So last week, according to Donald Trump, FBI Director Comey was part of the corrupt rigged system. Now he's a hero. What this letter from Comey succeeded in doing was reversing the focus of the race. Hillary Clinton had succeeded in making this a referendum on Donald Trump, which is very hard to do because usually a race for a third term in office - you know, a two-term president of one party, she's trying to become the third term - is usually about the incumbent party, in this case her. She got the spotlight on Donald Trump for almost the whole campaign. Now the spotlight is back on her.

MARTIN: Now, as we know, this news just broke. And so it's hard to understand, you know, how the voters are all reacting to this. But we're only 10 days out from the election. Do we have any sense of how voters are reacting to this?

LIASSON: We don't, but we do know that the kind of voters that are most likely to be affected by this are the low-information, low-propensity voters, voters that might not turn out. And those are the kinds of voters that Hillary Clinton wanted to get out for her. They might be turned off. We do know this could reenergize Trump's base. At those rallies yesterday, his supporters were thrilled and chanting lock her up, lock her up. She still has a solid lead in the national polls and in battleground races. But we still have 10 days left, and this certainly could hurt Democratic chances down-ballot.

Any time you have a story that includes the words Hillary Clinton's emails, her top aide's husband sexting scandal and the FBI, that's a big problem. So we know that the yuck factor has been a big factor all along in this campaign. This campaign is really ending the way it began for Hillary Clinton, with a focus on her emails.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, Mara, though, we know that Donald Trump has added more of his own personal funds into the campaign. I mean, going into this final stretch, what is the resource situation on either side?

LIASSON: She has so much more money than Donald Trump. Donald Trump once said that he was willing to donate $100 million to his campaign. That hasn't happened. I think he's going to end up donating about half of that amount. She's got a bigger ground game. She's been outspending him on television by a huge factor. So there is a huge disparity in resources.

MARTIN: That's NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson, who's currently traveling with the Clinton campaign. Mara, thanks so much.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.