The Justice Department sent a three-paragraph letter to lawmakers Monday telling them that it will “work closely” and “as expeditiously as possible” with the FBI on the new probe into e-mails that may be connected to the server used by Hillary Clinton and her aides when she was secretary of state.
“We assure you that the Department will continue to work closely with the FBI and together, dedicate all necessary resources and take appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible,” according to the letter from Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik. “We hope this information is helpful.”
The letter follows FBI Director James Comey’s Oct. 28 notification to congressional leaders, in which he said newly discovered e-mails might be relevant to the agency’s previously completed investigation into Clinton’s e-mail use. That letter ignited a political storm that placed the bureau and Attorney General Loretta Lynch under pressure to provide additional details about actions being taken as part of the review.
Some Democratic Party leaders have said Comey’s public letter crossed a line by coming out so close to the Nov. 8 presidential election. Even some Republicans weighed in, saying Comey’s letter didn’t provide sufficient detail about how many e-mails were found or what they are believed to contain.
Republican Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, defended the decision by Comey to disclose the new e-mail probe before the election but said it’s not fair to the public to do so without context.
"Unfortunately, your letter failed to give Congress and the American people enough context to evaluate the significance or full meaning of this development," Grassley wrote to Comey in a letter Monday.
President Barack Obama’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, said Monday that he will “neither defend nor criticize” Comey’s decision, but he added that he doesn’t think there is any reason to believe Comey is “secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party. He’s in a tough spot.”
Investigators obtained a warrant Sunday to examine whether Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s e-mails were work-related and whether they contain classified information. It’s possible the messages duplicate those already turned over by Clinton and her team or unearthed by the FBI during its earlier investigation. Comey, in his letter Oct. 28, said he didn’t know “whether or not this material may be significant.”
The FBI is now using a computer program to winnow down the number of Abedin e-mails that may be pertinent to the Clinton investigation or whether they are duplicates of what investigators have already seen, according to one person familiar with the matter. That process could conclude this week, the person said.
It’s not yet possible to assess whether a complete review can be finished before Election Day on Nov. 8, the person said. If investigators find new e-mails with potentially significant or classified material, it will take more time to analyze them, including by possibly having to send them to other agencies for review, said the person, who asked for anonymity to discuss a pending investigation.