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Read the letter Comey sent to FBI employees explaining his controversial decision on the Clinton email investigation

FBI Director James B. Comey testifies before a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in July 14. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

On Friday, FBI Director James B. Comey sent a letter to Congress saying the bureau is investigating additional emails that appear relevant to the Hillary Clinton email case. Soon after, he sent a note to his employees explaining his decision. Comey has been blasted by Democrats and some former Justice Department officials who say that his decision to notify Congress of this development less than two weeks before Election Day was inappropriate and unwarranted.

“It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election,” said John Podesta, the chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign. “The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.”

Hillary Clinton speaks to reporters Oct. 28 about the FBI's new inquiries into the private email server she used as secretary of state. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

In July, Comey had testified under oath before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that the FBI was finished investigating the Clinton email matter and that there would be no criminal charges.

Comey was asked at the hearing whether, if the FBI came across new information, he would review it. “My first question is this, would you reopen the Clinton investigation if you discovered new information that was both relevant and substantial?” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) asked Comey.

“It’s hard for me to answer in the abstract,” Comey replied. “We would certainly look at any new and substantial information.”

Read Comey’s letter to FBI employees below.

To all:

This morning I sent a letter to Congress in connection with the Secretary Clinton email investigation.  Yesterday, the investigative team briefed me on their recommendation with respect to seeking access to emails that have recently been found in an unrelated case.  Because those emails appear to be pertinent to our investigation, I agreed that we should take appropriate steps to obtain and review them.

Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.  At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.  In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.

Jim Comey