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FBI director: New emails don’t change our conclusion that Clinton shouldn’t be charged

Just nine days ago, FBI director James Comey turned the presidential race upside down by writing to Congress that the FBI had discovered new emails that appeared "to be pertinent" to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server.

But now today, he’s followed up with another letter saying that based on his team’s review of all the emails to or from Clinton while she was Secretary of State, he’s seen nothing to change his recommendation from July that no charges be brought against her.

Here is Comey’s letter, via CNN’s Jim Acosta:

Jim Acosta

Now, recall that the emails at issue here are from an account of Huma Abedin’s on her husband Anthony Weiner’s laptop, some of which were reportedly to and from Hillary Clinton.

Comey does not say here that he’s completed a full review of Abedin’s emails, but he does say that his team reviewed the emails to or from Hillary Clinton in the relevant time period — that is, while she was Secretary of State. And he says, essentially, that there was nothing to see there.

NBC's Pete Williams is quoting an anonymous law enforcement source who says that the review is "in essence, done," and that "nearly all" of the documents on the laptop "were duplicates of emails that the FBI had already seen" or "were personal emails that had no bearing on the question of classification." There were some emails containing documents that had already been examined in the previous review "that had been considered classified," Williams says, but since they had already been examined, that wouldn't change the FBI's overall conclusion.

The letter is unmistakably good news for Clinton, lifting the cloud of uncertainty that the FBI revelation and subsequent leaks from anonymous agents had put over the final days of her campaign.

And the apparent conclusion that there was nothing new here (at least nothing new related to Clinton herself) also raises questions about whether the discovery was significant enough to justify Comey’s original letter to Congress just 11 days before the election.

Still, it's possible that Comey did successfully manage to forestall an even worse outcome for the bureau — that is, an adversarial leak from anti-Clinton elements within the FBI aimed at sinking her election chances in the final days.