DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A fiercely defiant Hillary Clinton demanded answers Saturday about what she suggested is a politically motivated renewal of a previously shuttered federal inquiry into her email with just days to go in the presidential election.

“It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with so little information right before an election,” Clinton said as a supportive crowd cheered her on and booed the mention of FBI Director James Comey.

Clinton’s speech came as Republican rival, Donald Trump, seized on Comey’s letter notifying Congress about the inquiry and floated his own theories about it, shifting focus away from his own controversies in the hope of scoring a last-minute surge in an race that even his staff admits he’s losing.

The Democratic nominee’s strongly worded response to the new email inquiry capped a hectic scramble by Democrats to head off further political damage from a development that left them sputtering, both inside and outside the campaign.

Clinton stopped just short of accusing Comey, once a registered Republican, of partisan interference in the Nov. 8 election she is favored to win. She did not attempt to conceal her anger, although she went on to urge unity and optimism.

Other Democrats went much further, issuing scathing assessments of Comey’s motives and timing, as the potential for new legal jeopardy involving the Democratic nominee roiled an already tumultuous campaign.

The assault signaled a decision to go fully on offense against Comey and confront the email issue and Republican attacks head on.

The congressional black and Hispanic caucuses organized a news conference to denounce Comey, at least three Democratic senators drafted a letter of complaint Saturday and the Democratic National Committee issued a tartly worded statement.

“By releasing a letter within sixty days of the presidential election, FBI Director James Comey broke with long-standing department tradition that is meant to prevent any influence on the electoral process,” the DNC statement said.

“The letter did not offer enough detail that would allow Americans a full understanding of the development and whether or not it is even significant, which has led to speculation on the part of the media and irresponsible claims by Republican leaders. The FBI must move quickly to release additional clarifying information.”

The approach was particularly notable given the kid-glove treatment accorded Comey by Clinton and her campaign before now, and the long silence that followed the initial news about Comey’s letter on Friday. Several hours passed before either Clinton or anyone on her staff weighed in on the issue, at which point her campaign chairman John Podesta called on Comey to provide more information about what he was after.

Of chief concern to Democrats now is whether the development, and the uncertainty surrounding it, will cause supporters to disengage or stay home. Meanwhile, the development has been a political gift to Trump, who drew huge applause Saturday when called Clinton corrupt and untrustworthy.

Clinton received a boisterous reception from a racially mixed crowd estimated at 900 packed into a warm community center gym in an African-American neighborhood here. As she walked on stage, she was greeted with chants of “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary” that reverberated off the walls.

There were calls of “We love you!” as her speech continued.

Comey had sent a letter to eight congressional committee chairmen and ranking Democrats on Friday stating that “the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into the potential mishandling of classified information when Clinton was secretary of state.

The top leaders of Clinton’s campaign complained Saturday that Comey acted unfairly and perhaps improperly by announcing further inquiry into the former secretary of state’s email use, and they demanded a swift explanation.

Trump spent most of a noontime rally in Golden, Colorado, on Saturday detailing the issue.

“As you have heard, it was just announced yesterday that the FBI is reopening their investigation in the criminal and illegal conduct of Hillary Clinton,” Trump said about 10 minutes into the rally.

He then walked away from his podium and applauded the news along with his crowd, which began chanting: “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

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