FBI Agents Were Aware Of New Clinton-Related Emails Weeks Before Director Comey

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Oct 30, 2016 2:30 PM
FBI Agents Were Aware Of New Clinton-Related Emails Weeks Before Director Comey

There’s more palace intrigue from the FBI regarding their renewed probe into Clinton-related emails that were found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Weiner is under investigation for an inappropriate online interaction with an underage girl. Abedin, who is now separated from Weiner, shared that laptop. Abedin reportedly has said she has no idea how State Department emails were found on that device. Regardless, FBI Director James Comey informed Congress on Friday that the bureau will be reviewing these new documents…once they get approval from Abedin’s lawyers and a new subpoena to conduct a full search. Yet, FBI agents were aware of these emails weeks before briefing the director (Via WaPo):

The FBI agents investigating Hillary 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 B. Comey has written that he was informed of the development Thursday, and he sent 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.”

[…]

Given that the Clinton email team knew for weeks that it may have cause to resume its work, it is unclear why investigators did not tell Comey sooner. People familiar with the case said they had known about the messages since soon after New York FBI agents seized a computer related to their investigation into former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who is alleged to have exchanged explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl. Weiner is the estranged husband of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and federal law enforcement officials said they think the computer was used by both of them.

A public revelation in early October 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 immediately provide a statement.

Abedin could face the most immediate danger from this renewed probe, as she gave testimony in June, and signed a routine State Department form, that she had turned over all devices and documents relating to her time at the State Department. The form was signed in February of 2013 when Clinton left the State Department. Both the form and the deposition, which was part of lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch over Clinton’s email server, were conducted under penalty of perjury. The number of emails found are said to have soared into the thousands.

The delay in briefing the director could be due to a number of things, some of which might be innocuous. There’s been a reported souring of Comey’s leadership within the bureau, especially after he declined to press charges against Clinton in July. Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova said that some in the FBI view Comey as a dirty cop over the initial conclusion of the probe into Clinton’s email. Some said he “stood in the way,” and that a grand jury should have been convened. Agents involved with the investigation said there was a near unanimous consensus that Clinton’s security clearance should be yanked, a solid majority wanted charges to be filed.

We’ll let others speak to those allegations, but Comey, as indicated in his memo to FBI staffers on the day he sent the letter to Congress on the latest development of this saga, said he felt compelled to inform the public, especially since he’s testified multiple times on the Hill about it. Whatever the reason, Comey seems to have thought that a disclosure right now would invite less of a backlash than a disclosure after the election in which case allegations that the FBI sat on new emails could be lobbed. Nevertheless, the lack of trust between the director and the rest of the investigative team is probably going to be hurled as well.