Michigan GOP, Democrats clash on new Clinton probe

Michael Gerstein, and Chad Livengood

Michigan Republicans and Democrats clashed Friday over the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s decision to investigate a new batch of emails related to a previously closed probe of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private email server while secretary of state.

FBI Director James Comey informed Congress Friday that investigators will examine the new emails to determine whether they contain classified information, suggesting the continuation of a federal probe into Clinton’s private email use. Comey said in July that the investigation into Clinton’s private server had concluded and no charges were warranted.

Republican congressional candidate Paul Mitchell of Dryden, running to replace retiring GOP U.S. Rep. Candice Miller in the 10th Congressional District, welcomed the new probe.

“The FBI has a responsibility and duty to take politics, position and status out of this investigation and simply follow the facts,” Mitchell said in a statement. “Nobody is above the law and everyone must pay the consequences for their own actions, including Hillary Clinton.”

U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., the Detroit Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and fellow Democrat Rep. Elijah E. Cummings requested full disclosure from the Department of Justice and FBI.

“Although Director Comey’s letter was clear that none of the new material identified by the FBI may be ‘significant,’ the letter provided such limited and vague information that it allowed rampant speculation, numerous leaks, and wild accusations just 11 days before the presidential election,” they wrote in a letter to Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

“... In fairness to everyone involved, we are writing to request that the FBI and Department of Justice issue a more complete accounting of the details behind this letter, based on information from your career investigators and prosecutors, in order to debunk these conspiracy theories and correct the public record.”

The Michigan Republican Party was quick to issue a fundraising appeal citing the new FBI disclosure before even sending a public statement.

“With just 11 days before the election, one can only guess how severe these discoveries could be,” the fundraising email released Friday afternoon said.

“Hillary, even with her corrupt behavior, could still be our President. It is up to YOU to help us keep that from happening,” said the appeal, asking for $25, $50, $75, $100 or more “to stop Hillary in her tracks!”

Michigan Republican Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel later followed the fundraising note with a fresh attack.

“Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to run for president,” McDaniel said, echoing the argument of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. “Whether it is the pay-to-play as secretary of state, shady donations at the Clinton Foundation or her secret server, Hillary Clinton has demonstrated time and time again that she places herself above the interests of the American people.

“America cannot afford this corruption in the White House.”

Comey has said the new emails will spur further examination after they were discovered during an investigation into former New York U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s electronic devices, The New York Times reported. Weiner is the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

FBI had been investigating text messages Weiner sent to a 15-year-old North Carolina girl when they uncovered the new emails they say could be related to Clinton. The New York Times reported that there could be thousands of such emails.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon downplayed the significance of the development, noting Comey’s “extremely vague” letter did not say the FBI has officially reopened its closed investigation of Clinton’s email server.

“This close to an election, it’s incumbent upon (Comey) to explain that to the American people rather than let Republican politicians twist it into something that it’s not,” Dillon said.

The Democratic leader accused Republicans and the news media of mischaracterizing Comey’s letter to members of Congress.

“They’re going grasp at anything at this point because they know their candidate is totally unqualified to be president,” Dillon said.

Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta issued a Friday statement that called on Comey to “immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining” and said he is “confident it will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.”

T.J. Bucholz, a Lansing-based Democratic consultant, said the new probe would “matter little here” in Michigan, where Clinton has enjoyed a safe lead in the polls for months.’s average of public polling in Michigan had Clinton leading Trump by 7 percentage points on Friday.

“Because this election is so polarizing, I strongly believe there’s very little about Donald Trump that would make voters go away from him — and vice versa with Hillary Clinton,” Bucholz said.

Trump has faced accusations of sexual assault and harassment from a dozen women in the past few weeks, while Clinton has been dogged by double-digit increases in insurance premiums under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Bucholz said.

“In an election like this one that’s tight in certain places, every votes matters,” he said.