The Justice Department was issued a warrant to search emails sent by Hillary Clinton's top aide Huma Abedin on Sunday, and an FBI counterintelligence team has already begun reviewing the large cache of emails. Investigators have reportedly found hundreds of thousands of emails on a laptop Abedin shared with her estranged husband, Anthony "Recurring Nightmare" Weiner, who is being investigated for allegedly sending sexually explicit messages to a minor in North Carolina.
It's not known whether any of these emails will show that Abedin mishandled classified information, but a source tells the NY Times that some of the emails passed through Hillary Clinton’s private server at home, "which means there is a high likelihood that the F.B.I. has already read them." The warrant only permits investigators to review emails relating to the investigation into Secretary Clinton's handling of classified information, and the FBI does not yet know if any of the emails on Abedin's laptop were sent when Clinton was Secretary of State.
Abedin reportedly did not know her emails were on the laptop.
I am told Huma Abedin and/or her attorney was in contact w/FBI over the weekend + said she didn't know her emails were on the laptop.
— Eamon Javers (@EamonJavers) October 31, 2016
Abedin previously told investigators that in her role as Clinton's "gatekeeper," she would often print out emails for Clinton, which was her preference. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, "it will take weeks, at a minimum, to determine whether those messages are work-related from the time Ms. Abedin served with Mrs. Clinton at the State Department." Here's Newsweek's thorough explainer on the details:
This new evidence relates to how Abedin managed her emails. She maintained four email accounts—an unclassified State Department account, another on the clintonemail.com domain and a third on Yahoo. The fourth was linked to her husband’s account; she used it to support his activities when he was running for Congress, investigative records show. Abedin, who did not know Clinton used a private server for her emails, told the bureau in an April interview that she used the account on the clintonemail.com domain only for issues related to the Secretary’s personal affairs, such as communicating with her friends. For work-related records, Abedin primarily used the email account provided to her by the State Department.
Because Clinton preferred to read documents on paper rather than on a screen, emails and other files were often printed out and provided to her either at her office or home, where they were delivered in a diplomatic pouch by a security agent. Abedin, like many State Department officials, found the government network technology to be cumbersome, and she had great trouble printing documents there, investigative records show. As a result, she sometimes transferred emails from her unclassified State Department account to either her Yahoo account or her account on Clinton’s server, and printed the emails from there. It is not clear whether she ever transferred official emails to the account she used for her husband’s campaign.
The vague announcement about the email investigation from FBI director James Comey elicited "extraordinary criticism" on Friday, according to the Times, which reports that FBI agents are scrambling to review the emails and come to a determination before the election, which is a week from tomorrow. It remains to be seen whether the FBI will be in a position to publicly announce their findings before November 8th. On Sunday, officials told the Times they "would spare no resources in the investigation and try to determine whether the new emails changed the Justice Department’s conclusion not to charge Mrs. Clinton or her aides."
Senior Justice Department officials reportedly tried to stop Comey from informing Congress about this new wrinkle in the investigation, arguing that it violated department policy about commenting on ongoing investigations, and would appear to be meddling in the election. Comey himself acknowledged this in an internal letter to staffers sent on Friday, saying that he was worried about creating "a misleading impression" but that he believed his short, ambiguous letter was necessary.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, a Democrat, sent a letter to Comey on Sunday criticizing the director for a “disturbing double standard," saying Comey was publicizing the Clinton investigation while refusing to inform the public about alleged "coordination" between the Trump campaign and Russia. The letter accuses Comey of violating a law prohibiting federal agencies or its employees from interfering with political activities.
"Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another," Reid wrote. "I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election. Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.
"In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government - a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information."
Nearly 100 former federal prosecutors, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, also authored an open letter excoriating Comey for his letter to Congress on Friday regarding the investigation:
Director Comey's letter is inconsistent with prevailing Department policy, and it breaks with longstanding practices followed by officials of both parties during past elections. Moreover, setting aside whether Director Comey's original statements in July were warranted, by failing to responsibly supplement the public record with any substantive, explanatory information, his letter begs the question that further commentary was necessary. For example, the letter provides no details regarding the content, source or recipient of the material; whether the newly-discovered evidence contains any classified or confidential information; whether the information duplicates material previously reviewed by the FBI; or even “whether or not [the] material may be significant.”
Polling on weekends is considered unreliable, so it's difficult to gauge what impact this development will have on the Clinton campaign. Times election analyst Nate Cohn anticipates the news will result in a "swing" in the polls, but not a fundamental "shift." Cohn writes that "as we wait for more data, it’s worth remembering all of the big news events this year, and what came of them: Many moved the polls, but none fundamentally reshaped the race."
Perhaps The All-Seeing Trump can tell us where things stand?