By Roberta Rampton
WHITE PLAINS, New York (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign ratcheted up the pressure on FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, saying that if he released inconclusive information about the Democratic candidate, he can do the same for her Republican rival.
A week before Election Day, the Clinton campaign was working to contain damage from Comey’s announcement on Friday of new emails that might pertain to a previously completed investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server while she was secretary of state.
Republican Donald Trump seized on the revelation, which indicated no wrongdoing on Clinton’s part, intensifying his criticism of a rival he has long dubbed “Crooked Hillary” and welcoming a slight improvement for him in a new ABC/Washington Post poll on Tuesday.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook questioned why the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s director had not released any information about its investigation into Russia’s role in the U.S. election or ties to Trump and his senior aides.
“If you’re in the business of releasing information about investigations on presidential candidates, release everything you have on Donald Trump. Release the information on his connections to the Russians,” Mook said on CNN. “It is mind-boggling, and Director Comey needs to answer this.”
Law enforcement officials have been investigating Russia’s role in the presidential campaign and any ties to Trump or his senior advisers, but have found no conclusive, direct link, the New York Times reported on Monday. (nyti.ms/2eWIkSs) The United States has blamed Russia for cyber attacks on Democratic Party organizations.
The Clinton campaign has been furiously pressing the FBI to provide details on the new trove of emails, which Comey said may or may not be significant in the case. Little is publicly known yet about the emails, other than that they were found during an unrelated probe into Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
In an effort to shift the focus back to Trump’s vulnerabilities, the Clinton campaign released a provocative new ad raising the spectre of a possible nuclear war if Trump is elected president, and Clinton emphasized the message that Trump has a bad temper and an overly cavalier attitude towards nuclear weapons at rallies in the battleground state of Ohio on Monday.
The FBI spent a year investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server, instead of government systems, while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Comey concluded in July that while Clinton and her staff had been “extremely careless” in handling classified information, there were no grounds for any charges.
Comey has said he released more information about the investigation than is typical because of election year sensitivities.
“If Director Comey was so concerned about how information would be handled and about the reputation of the FBI, why did he release this letter that was full of innuendo and absolutely no facts?” Mook said on CNN, referring to Comey’s letter to members of Congress on Friday.
The New York Times also assailed Comey, accusing him in an editorial in its Tuesday edition of sending “a brief, inscrutable, election-shaking letter” in a “breathtakingly rash and irresponsible decision.” (nyti.ms/2dYvJ4J)
The FBI announcement 11 days before the Nov. 8 presidential election blindsided Clinton, who had extended her lead over Trump in opinion polls after the release last month of a 2005 video in which the Republican bragged in vulgar terms about groping women.
Opinion polls show Clinton’s lead has narrowed slightly since early last week. It was not known if the email controversy would hurt her support.
Clinton held a 5-point lead over Trump in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, supported by 44 percent of likely voters, compared with Trump at 39 percent.
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis