Unsealed documents outline F.B.I.’s reasoning in Clinton case

Unsealed documents outline F.B.I.’s reasoning in Clinton case
# 21 December 2016 03:57 (UTC +04:00)

The F.B.I. told a federal magistrate judge in Manhattan in a sealed affidavit shortly before Election Day that there was probable cause to believe that emails belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, contained classified information, according to a redacted copy of the affidavit, APA reports quoting The New York Times.

The affidavit, which was unsealed on Tuesday along with related materials in Federal District Court, was filed on Oct. 30 in support of the F.B.I.’s request for a warrant to search a laptop containing the emails.

The government appears to have based its warrant request on the theory that because Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin had exchanged many classified emails using Mrs. Clinton’s personal server, there was likely to be classified material in the additional emails discovered on the laptop, as well.

The affidavit, in a redacted reference that a law enforcement official said was to Ms. Abedin, noted that she typically communicated with Mrs. Clinton’s email account on a daily basis, and that the bureau had found more than 4,000 work-related emails between them from 2009 to 2013.

The affidavit, sworn out by an F.B.I. supervisor, is highly redacted and does not identify anyone other than Mrs. Clinton. But its release further fueled the bitter debate over the decision by the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to state publicly in a letter to Congress on Oct. 28 that the bureau would begin reviewing the emails, which he said had been discovered in an “unrelated” case and appeared “pertinent” to the investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s server.

On Nov. 6, two days before the election, Mr. Comey informed Congress that based on its review, the bureau had not changed its conclusion that Mrs. Clinton should face no charges over her handling of classified information.

David E. Kendall, Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer, said in a statement Tuesday that the unsealed affidavit “highlights the extraordinary impropriety of Director Comey’s Oct. 28 letter, publicized two days before the affidavit, which produced devastating but predictable damage politically and which was both legally unauthorized and factually unnecessary.”

He added that what is “unassailably clear” is that “as the sole basis for this warrant, the F.B.I. put forward the same evidence the bureau concluded in July was not sufficient to bring a case — the affidavit offered no additional evidence to support any different conclusion.”

An F.B.I. spokesman had no comment on the criticism or the unsealed documents.

Mrs. Clinton said last week that Mr. Comey’s decision to release the letter was one of two “unprecedented” events that led to her defeat. And former President Bill Clinton said on Monday that he believed Donald J. Trump won the presidency because of outside interference in the election. “We had the Russians and the F.B.I., and she couldn’t prevail against that,” Mr. Clinton said.

The unrelated case in which Ms. Abedin’s emails were found was an investigation into allegations that her estranged husband, Anthony D. Weiner, a former congressman, had sent illicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina from a laptop he shared with Ms. Abedin.

The heavy redactions make it difficult to parse all of the email connections upon which the bureau based its affidavit. But the affidavit states that because its investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s personal email server turned up many emails that contained classified information, there was “probable cause to believe that the correspondence” found on Mr. Weiner’s laptop — a silver Dell Inspiron — also contained such information.

The laptop “was never authorized for the storage or transmission of classified or national defense information,” the affidavit says.

The affidavit also suggests that the bureau found that the emails belonging to Ms. Abedin were sent between the same accounts and around the same time as the emails found in the earlier review of Mrs. Clinton’s server. The warrant was issued on Oct. 30 by Magistrate Judge Kevin N. Fox.

The redacted documents were unsealed at the order of Judge P. Kevin Castel after a request by E. Randol Schoenberg, a Los Angeles lawyer who has criticized Mr. Comey’s handling of the emails investigation as “politically motivated” and a “Republican-inspired fishing expedition.”

Mr. Weiner’s lawyer, Arlo Devlin-Brown, and a lawyer for Ms. Abedin declined to comment on Tuesday.