Feds receive warrant to search emails
The FBI has obtained a warrant to search the emails found on a computer used by former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner that may contain evidence relevant to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, according to law enforcement officials.
One official said the total number of emails recovered in the Weiner investigation is close to 650,000 — though that reflects many emails that are not in any way relevant to the Clinton investigation.
Officials familiar with the case said, though, the messages include a significant amount of correspondence associated with Clinton and top aide Huma Abedin, Weiner’s estranged wife.
The agents investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server knew early this month that messages recovered in a separate probe might be germane to their case, but they waited weeks before briefing the FBI director, according to people familiar with the case.
FBI Director James Comey has written that he was informed of the development Thursday, and he sent Officials say the messages include correspondence associated with Hillary Clinton and aide Huma Abedin, bottom. a letter to legislators the next day letting them know that he thought the team should take “appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails.”
That missive ignited a political firestorm less than two weeks before the election.
Almost instantly, Comey came under intense criticism for his timing and for bucking the Justice Department’s guidance not to tell Congress about the development.
People familiar with the case said they had known about the messages soon after New York FBI agents seized a computer related to their investigation into The emails were found on a computer used by former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner. Weiner, who is alleged to have exchanged explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl.
Abedin has told people that she is unsure how her emails could have ended up on a device she viewed as belonging to her husband, according to a person familiar with the investigation and civil litigation over the matter.
An announcement from the FBI in early October, when the emails were discovered, might have been less politically damaging for Clinton than one coming less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 election.
It is also unclear what agents have been doing in the intervening time — for instance, whether they were trying to learn more about the emails before notifying Comey. An FBI spokesman declined to provide a statement.
Comey wrote in his letter to Congress, “We don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails,” and federal law enforcement officials have said that investigators on the Clinton email team still had yet to thoroughly review them.
Comey in July announced that he was recommending the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state be closed without charges.
But he said investigators had found classified information on the server and characterized Clinton’s and her aides’ conduct as “extremely careless.”
Investigators will be looking at whether the newly uncovered emails contain classified information or other evidence that could help advance the Clinton email probe.
It is possible, though, that the messages could be duplicative of others already recovered elsewhere or that they could be a collection of benign, personal notes.
The process, former FBI officials have said, could be cumbersome and drag on after the election — particularly if wholly new emails were found.
A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll found that more than 6 in 10 likely voters said the FBI’s announcement would make no difference in their vote.
A little more than 3 in 10 said the news made them less likely to support Clinton, though about twothirds of those were Republicans or Republican-leaning independents.
Meanwhile, FBI agents argued — based at least in part on news accounts — earlier this year that the Clinton Foundation should be investigated for potentially giving donors special political access and favors. The Justice Department’s public integrity unit said they did not have enough evidence to move forward.
The Clinton Foundation said it was never contacted by the FBI, suggesting the bureau’s efforts were in a preliminary stage as prosecutors weighed in. But agents in New York have sought to keep their inquiries alive, feuding with the Justice Department about the lengths to which they can go, according to people familiar with the matter.
That infighting became public Sunday, when The Wall Street Journal published a detailed account of interactions between prosecutors and FBI officials.