FBI Search Warrant For Clinton Emails Issued On Shaky Evidence
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Search warrant documents released on Tuesday related to the probe of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email setup provided new details about the FBI’s decision to revive the investigation days before the Nov. 8 election.
The materials, which related to a search warrant issued after Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey on Oct. 28 informed Congress of the emails, were ordered released on Monday by U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan.
Comey’s letter drew new attention to Clinton’s use of the server while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 and roiled the campaign 11 days before the election, which Republican Donald Trump won.
In an affidavit, an FBI agent said there was “probable cause” to believe emails between Clinton and a person whose name was redacted were among “thousands” found on a laptop that contained U.S. State Department correspondence.
But the filings gave no indication that any emails involving Clinton containing classified information had been found on the laptop at the time the warrant was issued on Oct. 30.
The laptop belonged to former Democratic U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin who was the subject of an investigation after a report about cellphone and online messages he sent a 15-year-old girl.
The search warrant materials’ release was sought by Randol Schoenberg, a Los Angeles-based lawyer, who in court papers said transparency was crucial given the potential influence the probe had on the election’s outcome.
In a statement, Schoenberg said he saw “nothing to suggest that there would be anything other than routine correspondence between Secretary Clinton and her longtime aide Huma Abedin.”
Lawyers for Clinton and Weiner did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the FBI. Abedin’s lawyer declined comment.
In July, Comey recommended no charges be brought over Clinton’s handing of classified information in the emails, although he said she and her colleagues were “extremely careless” in handling such information.
That determination followed what the search warrant materials called a “criminal investigation concerning the improper transmission and storage of classified info on unclassified email systems and servers.”
In his Oct. 28 letter to Congress, Comey said emails potentially related to the investigation had been discovered in an “unrelated case.”
Federal investigators obtained the warrant to examine the emails on Oct. 30. Two days before the election, Comey disclosed the emails did nothing to change his earlier recommendation.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York, additional reporting by Scot Paltrow and Mark Hosenball in Washington; editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Tom Brown)
IMAGE: U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks about the FBI inquiry into her emails during a campaign rally in Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S. October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder