Abedin data search approved
FBI will scan laptop for links to Clinton case
A federal judge has ordered the public release of a search warrant and other documents related to the FBI’s renewal of an investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
The FBI filed the search warrant Oct. 30 to obtain emails stored on the laptop belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin so agents could review any messages found to have been sent to or received by Mrs. Clinton during her four-year tenure in the State Department.
U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel on Monday ordered that the search warrant, affidavit and other documents be unsealed by noon Tuesday, unless a higher court steps in.
FBI Director James B. Comey announced Oct. 28 that the bureau would be renewing its Clinton email probe after emails “pertinent” to the investigation were uncovered as agents worked on an unrelated case. The case under investigation turned out to be accusations that Ms. Abedin’s estranged husband, Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, sent sexually explicit text messages to an underage girl.
Some information from the documents would be redacted, including references to Ms. Abedin and Mr. Weiner, who were never explicitly named in the court’s order or by the FBI.
E. Randol Schoenberg, a Los Angeles-based genealogist and lawyer known for his work recovering artwork stolen by the Nazis, filed the lawsuit last week seeking access to the documents. Government attorneys initially opposed the release of the search warrant and other documents, but later agreed to their release with redactions, according to the judge’s order.
“Ordinarily, a person whose conduct is the subject of a criminal investigation but is not charged with a crime should not have his or her reputation sullied by the mere circumstance of an investigation,” Judge Castel wrote in his 10-page order.
But noting the public comments Mr. Comey and Mrs. Clinton have made about the investigation, he noted that Mrs. Clinton has “little remaining privacy interest in the release of documents identifying her as the subject of this investigation.”
“The strong presumption of access attached to the search warrant and related materials is not overcome by any remaining privacy interest of Secretary Clinton,” he wrote.
Mr. Comey’s Oct. 28 announcement sent shock waves through the presidential contest, as he announced the renewal of the investigation less than two weeks ahead of Election Day. The Clinton campaign, many of her supporters and even former President Bill Clinton have blamed her electoral loss to Republican Donald Trump, sometimes partially and sometimes wholly, upon the Comey announcement.
Two days before the election, Mr. Comey announced that investigators had looked through the more than 600,000 emails on Ms. Abedin’s laptop and found nothing to change his conclusion that Mrs. Clinton shouldn’t be prosecuted for her handling of classified information.
Over the summer, Mr. Comey said Mrs. Clinton was “extremely careless” with top-secret information and may have had her secret email server hacked by foreign governments but that he would not recommend filing criminal charges against her.
Huma Abedin, top aide to Hillary Clinton, is not named in the FBI’s court order, but the agency has filed a search warrant to obtain emails on her laptop to review any messages sent to or received by Mrs. Clinton.