Staffer Huma Abedin (C) greets Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by AFP)
Federal Bureau of Investigation has apparently managed to obtain the warrant needed to investigate use of private email server by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 in the run-up to the 2016 presidential vote.
US media reports said Sunday that the federal authorities had been authorized to make the move as the November 8 vote was approaching.
The development came after a three-paragraph letter was sent to the Republican-controlled Congress by FBI Director James Comey about newly discovered emails “pertinent” to Clinton’s email scandal.
Ever since, the Democrats have been accusing him of trying to impact the result of the election under pressure from Clinton’s opponent, Donald Trump, as well as other GOPers.
Back in July, the FBI chief refused to recommend criminal charges against Clinton.
US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton disembarks from her campaign plane at the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, on October 30, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
The latest emails were allegedly discovered as part of a different probe of former Democratic US Representative Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin.
Weiner has himself been subject to investigation over allegations of sexting with a teenage girl.
The federal authorities are reportedly set to examine roughly 650,000 on Weiner’s laptop.
“They have 650,000 they have found, it was just reported,” Trump said at a rally in Greeley, Colorado. “I would think they will have some real bad ones, but we’re going to find out. Maybe not, maybe not.”
Republican pesidential nominee Donald Trump waves to supporters before his speech at the Bank of Colorado Arena on the campus of University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado on October 30, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Meanwhile, US Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid sent a letter to the FBI chief, accusing him of attempts to change the course of the election through violating the Hatch Act.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder has also joined hands with dozens of other former federal prosecutors by signing a letter to censure Comey’s move.
Comey’s disclosure has “invited considerable, uninformed public speculation” about the significance of the emails, read the letter, seen by the AP.
The FBI has obtained a warrant to search the emails found on a computer used by former Congressman Anthony Weiner that may contain evidence relevant to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, according to law enforcement officials.
One official said the total number of emails recovered in the Weiner investigation is close to 650,000 – though that reflects many emails that are not in any way relevant to the Clinton investigation.
Officials familiar with the case said, though, the messages include a significant amount of correspondence associated with Clinton and her top aide Huma Abedin, Weiner’s estranged wife.
The agents investigating 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.
That missive ignited a political firestorm less than two weeks before the election. Almost instantly, Comey came under intense criticism for his timing and for bucking the Justice Department’s guidance not to tell Congress about the development.Director James Comey has written that he was informed of the development last week, 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”.
And his announcement means that Clinton could have to contend with the news that the FBI has resumed its investigation of her use of a private email server – without any real clarity on if its investigators will actually find anything significant – up to and beyond election day.
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 Weiner, who is alleged to have exchanged explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl.
Abedin has told people that she is unsure how her emails could have ended up on a device she viewed as belonging to her husband, according to a person familiar with the investigation and civil litigation over the matter.
An announcement from the FBI in early October, when the emails were discovered, might have been less politically damaging for Clinton than one coming less than two weeks before the November 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 provide a statement.
Comey wrote in his letter to Congress, “We don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails,” and federal law enforcement officials have said that investigators on the Clinton email team still had yet to thoroughly review them. They needed a warrant to do so.
Comey in July announced that he was recommending the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State be closed without charges.
Investigators will be looking at whether the newly uncovered emails contain classified information or other evidence that could help advance the Clinton email probe. It is possible, though, that the messages could be duplicative of others already recovered elsewhere or that they could be a collection of benign, personal notes.
Legislators on both sides of the political aisle are likely to raise questions about why the team investigating Clinton’s private email took so long to brief Comey. Clinton and her backers have pushed aggressively for the bureau to release more information about its findings and criticised the agency for making its work public without knowing more.
A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll found that more than 6 in 10 likely voters said the FBI’s announcement would make no difference in their vote. A little more than 3 in 10 said the news made them less likely to support Clinton, though about two-thirds of those were Republicans or Republican-leaning independents.