FBI clears Hillary in latest email review
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday, 8 Nov 2016 - 7:14:18 AM
But, as both candidates criss-crossed swing states in a last desperate scramble for votes, the 11th hour decision by the Federal Bureau of Investigation refocused attention on an issue that has damaged her campaign.
"We're glad that this matter is resolved," Clinton's campaign director Jennifer Palmieri told reporters aboard the 69-year-old's campaign plane.
Late last month, with Clinton seemingly on a glide path to victory, Comey sent shockwaves through both campaigns by announcing a renewed FBI investigation in Clinton's email use.
In July, the Justice Department, acting on the FBI's recommendation, had decided not to prosecute Clinton over her decision to use a private server for official emails while she was Washington's top diplomat.
But, after a previously undiscovered batch of mails was found on a laptop belonging to the husband of one of Clinton's key aides, Comey warned lawmakers he was revisiting the case.
Trump, the 70-year-old property tycoon and Republican flag-bearer, seized on the opening, condemning Clinton's "criminal scheme" and arguing that she was unfit to be president.
Opinion polls tightened as Trump began to recover ground he lost after several women accused him of sexual assault, and the race looked headed for a photo finish.
But on Sunday, Comey wrote another letter to Congress to say that FBI agents had been working around the clock to review the "large volume of emails" found on the laptop.
"During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state," Comey wrote.
"Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Hillary Clinton," he concluded.
It was not immediately clear how the news would affect what has been one of the most bruising campaigns in modern US history, one that has the world on tenterhooks.
But there was relief among Clinton aides as they planned a huge rally in Philadelphia on Monday, the night before Election Day, starring President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle -- and Bruce Springsteen.
"We are glad to see, as we were confident we would, that (Comey) has confirmed the conclusions that he really reached in July," Palmieri said.
Trump, who has hammered away at the email issue in stump speeches three to four times a day for the last few weeks of the campaign, had no immediate reaction to Comey's decision.
But at a rally in Minnesota, a state won comfortably by Obama in 2012, he returned to his familiar theme of the corruption of the Washington elite.
"Hillary Clinton will be under investigation for a long, long time, for her many crimes against our nation, our people, our democracy," he declared.
It was not clear as he spoke if he was aware of Comey's letter as he predicted that these investigations would likely conclude in a criminal trial.
But he warned voters: "You have to understand, it's a rigged system and she's protected."
Keywords:FBI, clears, Hillary, email review