Here's a fuller explanation of this breaking story (click the image of the letter to see a larger version):
The gist is this: The FBI was investigating an "unrelated case" when it "learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to" the previously closed probe of classified information on Hillary Clinton's private, unsecured email server.
So here we are, less than two weeks from Election Day, and the presumed front-runner of the presidential election is under an active federal investigation. Unbelievable, and probably unprecedented.
Of course, we have seen unbelievable moments in this case before -- such as watching FBI Director James Comey lay out a detailed explanation of how Clinton had clearly broken the law regarding classified information, only to swerve at the end and say he wasn't recommending prosecution in the case. At the time, Republicans charged that Comey was playing politics. Now, we can assume Democrats will say the same.
But what's clear here, and has been clear all along, is that Hillary Clinton neither handled classified information properly nor produced all the information relevant to the case. Comey said as much back in July, when he acknowledged some of the emails examined in the original investigation had come from sources other than Clinton. He also said this: "It is also likely that there are other work-related e-mails that they did not produce to State and that we did not find elsewhere, and that are now gone because they deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery."
We can speculate that the investigation is being re-opened because some of those emails were found elsewhere. But where?
I don't have an exhaustive list of open FBI investigations, but I do know of two: the one into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails, and the one into the personal and campaign finances of a longtime Clinton ally, Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia. It's of course possible the emails in question were found during a different probe. But the DNC case would, on the surface, make the most sense because it also involves emails sent and received by Clinton's allies.
Still, the McAuliffe case is an intriguing possibility given the news this week that McAuliffe's PAC gave nearly $500,000 to the 2015 state Senate campaign of Jill McCabe, whose husband, Andrew, is the FBI's deputy director and helped oversee the original investigation of Clinton's email server. McAuliffe has denied any quid pro quo, saying his recruitment and support of McCabe as a candidate was no different from the help he as governor gives other Democrats seeking state office.
Wherever the new emails came from, the re-opening of this case couldn't come at a worse time for Clinton. Her campaign is slammed nearly every day by the release of emails, ranging from embarrassing to worse, hacked from the Gmail account of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta by the anarchists at Wikileaks. That includes the revelation this week of a memo a longtime aide to Bill Clinton wrote in 2011 describing how he had served both the Clinton Foundation and what he called "Bill Clinton, Inc." by working with private companies and individuals to give money to both.
Now the issue she was unable to put to rest for more than a year, until Comey's announcement of no charges this summer, is back in the headlines. Considering how little time there is before the election -- and millions of Americans are voting early in the meantime -- it is highly unlikely the latest story will be resolved before Nov. 8.
Will Americans who have been lukewarm at best toward Clinton all along really be willing to pull the lever for her now that she's back under an FBI investigation? How could they?
UPDATE at 3:35 p.m.:
The New York Times is reporting the emails in question came from ... the FBI's investigation of Anthony Weiner for allegedly sexting with an underage girl (!):
"Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner.
"The F.B.I. is investigating illicit text messages that Mr. Weiner sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. The bureau told Congress on Friday that it had uncovered new emails related to the Clinton case — one federal official said they numbered in the thousands — potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election."
And guess who, among the billions of words he's probably uttered during this campaign, actually alluded to this possibility?
2016: You can't make this $#*! up.