Feds re­ceive war­rant to search emails

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Matt Za­po­to­sky, Ellen Nakashima and Ros­alind S. Hel­der­man

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.

JUSTIN SUL­LI­VAN/GETTY

RICHARD DREW/AP 2013

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