Clinton: Americans deserve ‘full and complete facts immediately’ regarding new email probe
DES MOINES, Iowa — Hillary Clinton criticized FBI Director James Comey on Friday for failing to disclose additional information about the nature of a new inquiry into her private email server.
“We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election of our lifetimes,” Clinton said at a news conference in Des Moines, Iowa. “The American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately.”
Hours earlier, Comey had informed Congress that the FBI will investigate whether additional classified material is contained in emails sent over the private system Clinton used at the State Department.
After two campaign rallies in Iowa where the email issue went unmentioned by Cinton, an aide led the democratic nominee’s traveling press into the choir room at a high school in Des Moines about 15 minutes after Clinton spoke to the crowd. A lectern had been set up under bright lights with six American flags in the background and a sign with Clinton’s campaign logo, “Stronger Together,” on the front of the lectern.
Clinton noted that Americans across the country are already voting and that it is “imperative” that Comey explain the issue “without delay.”
“We don’t know all the facts,” Clinton said. “Even Director Comey noted that this information may or may not be significant, so let’s get it out.”
The newly discovered emails were found on a computer seized during an investigation of former U.S. representative Anthony Weiner, according to two people familiar with the situation. Weiner is separated from top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Asked about the connection to her aide, Clinton said that she had heard “rumors” but did not know any more facts than those contained in Comey’s letter.
“We don’t know what to believe,” Clinton said. “That’s why it’s incumbent upon the FBI director to tell us what they’e talking about.”
Donald Trump cheered the new FBI inquiry into the Democratic presidential nominee’s private email system, saying the scrutiny offers a chance to correct “a grave miscarriage of justice.”
“I have great respect of the FBI for righting this wrong,” Trump said at the start of a campaign rally in a basketball gymnasium in Manchester, N.H. He said he was confident that the investigation “will be properly handled from this point forward.”
Later at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump denounced Clinton’s response to Comey, claiming that she sought to “politicize” the FBI’s actions by claiming wrongly that his letter was sent only to Republican lawmakers. It was sent to both Democrats and Republicans.
“The FBI would not have reopened this case at this time unless it was a most egregious criminal offense,” Trump said. “Justice will prevail.”
The new development could reshape the presidential election in its final days.
Speaking at the campaign event, Trump — interrupted by chants of “lock her up!” — said that the new FBI probe “is bigger than Watergate.
“They are reopening the case into her criminal and illegal conduct that threatens the security of the United States of America,” the Republican nominee said. “Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.”
But Clinton’s campaign characterized Comey’s decision as one made in response to partisan prodding by Republicans. Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta said that the campaign has “no idea what those emails are and the Director himself notes they may not even be significant.”
Comey’s announcement thrust the email issue back into the center of the presidential race with less than two weeks until Election Day, and as millions of Americans are already voting early.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Comey said that the FBI had, in connection with an “unrelated case,” recently “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation.”
The FBI had closed its first investigation in July with no charges, though Comey had concluded that there had been classified content exchanged on the server and that Clinton had been “extremely careless.”
Several Democratic lawmakers criticized Comey for making an announcement that had the potential to influence the election. But Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus countered in an interview with Fox News that Comey would not have taken such an extraordinary step “if it wasn’t a big deal.”
Trump, who has been intensifying his argument that the system is “rigged” against him and in favor of Clinton, said the fact that a fresh investigation has been opened could prove him wrong.
“It might not be as rigged as I thought,” he said.
Senior staff flying with Clinton to campaign appearances in Iowa spoke with reporters earlier in the day Friday, before the news broke.
At Clinton’s outdoor Cedar Rapids rally, there were a few people outside the event perimeter chanting “lock her up.”
Inside, Clinton focused her remarks on Trump, criticizing him sharply for his treatment of women. She noted leaked tapes of Trump discussing making unwanted advances on women, and his comments to radio host Howard Stern in which he admitted to entering the dressing rooms at his beauty pageants while the contestants were partially clothed.
“This is a man who relishes making women feel terrible about themselves,” Clinton said.
Trump was set to campaign in the same Iowa city later Friday.
Meanwhile, President Obama planned to join top Democrats fanned out across battleground states.
Clinton’s campaign announced Friday that she will campaign in Arizona next week — the strongest indication yet that Democrats see an opportunity to pick up a state that has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1996. Clinton has already sent organizers and other field workers to Arizona and is airing television ads there. She plans to hold a rally in Phoenix on Wednesday aimed at encouraging early in-person voting.
“This is another battleground state,” Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told reporters flying with her. “We anticipate that Arizona is neck and neck.”
For months, Arizona had not been on the Clinton’s campaign list of targeted states against Trump. But tightening polls prompted the campaign to send a string of high-profile surrogates to the state, including first lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Chelsea Clinton.
Regardless of whether Clinton wins the state, the move is intended to make Trump defend what should be an easy state to win at a time when he is trying to make up ground in numerous other states.
In a tacit acknowledgment that he has not locked down Arizona, Trump is returning to campaign there Saturday.
Trump sought to gain ground in New Hampshire, where he trails Clinton but has narrowed the gap in recent weeks, before holding an evening rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He has held a persistent lead in most polls in Iowa, making a Clinton victory there less likely than in any of the other six battleground states where the Democratic nominee has concentrated efforts.
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Trump and Clinton tied in Iowa at 44 percent.
Clinton was attending a pair of “women win” early-vote rallies in Iowa on Friday — in the early afternoon in Cedar Rapids and later in Des Moines.
Trump also planned a stop in Maine, where students mostly too young to vote chose him over Clinton in a statewide mock election this week. Earlier this month, Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage said he agrees with Trump that the national presidential election will be “rigged.”
“I am not confident that we are going to have a clean election in Maine,” LePage said during an interview with a conservative radio station.
He blamed Maine Democrats for blocking voter ID requirements.
Obama was headlining an early evening rally in Orlando to ask Florida voters to cast their ballots early. The Clinton campaign is encouraging early voting to bank Democratic votes and build what the campaign says could be an insurmountable lead in the battleground state that offers the greatest number of electoral votes.
Even before Obama arrived in Florida for Friday’s event, Clinton’s campaign announced that the president would return to the state for more campaign stops Thursday, five days before the election. He will be in Ohio on Tuesday and North Carolina on Wednesday.
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine is also campaigning in Florida on Friday, while former president Bill Clinton is in Pennsylvania.
Obama’s appearance on Clinton’s behalf is part of a tandem effort with first lady Michelle Obama to elect Obama’s onetime rival as his successor. Clinton and Michelle Obama campaigned together in North Carolina on Thursday.
The president’s rally in Orlando marks his second visit to Florida this month as he seeks to boost enthusiasm and turnout among Democrats in a key swing state that he carried in the past two presidential elections.
“The president is feeling very enthusiastic and optimistic both about Secretary Clinton’s campaign, about the campaign of Democrats up and down the ballot all across the country, and about the trajectory of the race,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday. “But he’s not taking anything for granted. He certainly is going to do everything he can to warn against the perils of complacency.”
The president in the Interstate 4 corridor, through the heart of the state, that has been seen as a crucial bellwether in past elections. His trip comes four months after he and Vice President Biden visited Orlando to lay wreaths at a memorial for the victims of a mass shooting at a gay night club.
Clinton holds a slim 1.6 percentage point lead in the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls in Florida, down from an average of 4 points a week ago. Obama is aiming to drive up enthusiasm and turnout among Democrats, especially young voters and minorities. Obama weighed in on the Senate race between Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy and Republican incumbent Marco Rubio, a White House foil.
“There’s one big difference between Patrick and Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio still supports Donald Trump,” Obama told a raucous crowd of 9,000 at the University of Central Florida, hammering the Republican senator for his continued support of Trump after allegations of sexual misconduct have emerged against the Republican nominee. “You can’t support somebody who brags about assaulting women.”
In a 40-minute speech, however, Obama did not mention the news of the FBI’s review of more emails from Clinton’s personal server, which could potentially impact the race.
“You know, sometimes when you get a lead, whether sports or in politics, you start feeling good. You start celebrating too early,” Obama said. “The next thing you know, you look up and let it slip away. I don’t want you all feeling too good. I want you hustling all the way until polls close on November 8. I don’t want you taking things for granted.”
Obama has been ramping up his activity in the campaign, with multiple trips to swing states each week, recorded phone calls to voters and interviews on television and radio stations. He also has been raising money for Clinton and the Democratic Senate and House candidates and features prominently in a new Clinton television ad aimed at turning out Democratic voters.
The Clinton campaign also announced a new six-figure ad buy in Wisconsin, her first in the general election, as part of an effort to fortify the Democrats’ Senate candidate there, Russ Feingold, and other down-ballot races.
In the campaign’s final week, Obama will be on the road nearly every day, White House officials said, in a final blitz through the most competitive swing states.
Obama’s appearance Friday comes as a new Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll shows Trump has gained on Clinton during the past week, solidifying support among core Republican groups as well as political independents.
Roughly 6 in 10 still expect Clinton to prevail, while the poll finds shrinking concerns about the accuracy of the vote count and voter fraud in the election.
Clinton holds a slight 48-44 percent edge over Trump among likely voters, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 4 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 1 percent in the survey completed Sunday through Wednesday. Clinton held a six-point edge in the previous wave and a 12-point edge in the first wave of the tracking poll by ABC News Sunday (50 percent Clinton vs. 38 percent Trump). In a two-candidate contest, Clinton holds a five-point edge over Trump, 50 to 45 percent.
Iowa is one of the few battlegrounds states in which Trump has continued to hold narrow leads in most polling in the aftermath of emergence of a 2005 video in which he bragged about his celebrity status empowering him to kiss and grope women.
The demographics of Iowa are favorable to Trump in several ways. It has among the largest shares of white voters in the nation, a sizable rural population and significant number of non-college educated residents, all groups with whom Trump polls relatively well. The state has also endured significant manufacturing job losses, making it more fertile ground for Trump’s message than some other battleground states.
Clinton, who would be the country’s first female president, was joined at her first rally by a slate of national women’s rights leaders, including Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund; Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America; and Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List. They tailored their pitch to women, highlighting the issues at stake in the election, including child care and equal pay, as well as Trump’s behavior and history of “demeaning women,” an aide said.
With close to a dozen women having come forward to say that Trump made unwanted physical advances over the years, Clinton’s campaign has stepped up its targeted outreach to women, including Republicans.
The campaign also announced this week that it had chosen a symbolic venue for Clinton’s election-night gathering: a convention center in Manhattan with a very large glass ceiling.