October 3, 2016: The FBI seizes the electronic devices of Huma Abedin’s husband in a sex scandal case, which will lead to the reopening of the Clinton email investigation.

Anthony Weiner takes a selfie from his image in a mirror. (Credit: Daily Mail)

Anthony Weiner takes a selfie from his image in a mirror. (Credit: Daily Mail)

Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton and her former deputy chief of staff, is married to Anthony Weiner, a former Congressperson who has been beset by two “sexting” scandals, in which it was publicly revealed he sent sexual text messages to other women. On August 28, 2016, the New York Post reported that Weiner had been caught in his third sexting scandal. The next day, Abedin announced she is separating from him and divorcing him. (The New York Post, 8/28/2016)

On September 21, 2016, the Daily Mail further revealed that the still unnamed woman he’d been sexting with in recent months in fact was only 15 years old. (The Daily Mail, 9/21/2016)

This raised the possibility that Weiner could face serious federal criminal charges, especially if the girl lives in a different state, which it turns out she does. (Rolling Stone, 9/22/2016)

As a result, after the Daily Mail article, top federal prosecutors in New York (where Weiner lives) and North Carolina (where the unnamed girl lives) fought over who would get to prosecute the case. The Justice Department gave the case to Preet Bharara, a US attorney in New York.

The New York Times will later report that also in late September 2016, “agents in the FBI’s New York field office understood that the Weiner investigation could possibly turn up additional emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s private server, according to a senior federal law enforcement official.”

On the same day Anthony Weiner's electronic devices were seized, the Clinton campaign team are on their way to a rally in Akron, OH on October 3, 2016. (Credit: Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

On the same day Anthony Weiner’s electronic devices are seized, the Clinton campaign team are on their way to a rally in Akron, OH on October 3, 2016. (Credit: Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Then, on October 3, 2016, the FBI seizes several electronic devices owned by Weiner, including a computer laptop, his iPhone, and his iPad. Several days later, FBI agents also confiscate a Wi-Fi router that could identify any other devices that he had used. This is also according to an unnamed US law enforcement official.

When FBI agents search the seized devices, they find thousands of emails sent to or from Abedin on the laptop, because apparently it was used by both Abedin and Weiner before they separated. According to unnamed “senior law enforcement officials,” some of the emails are sent between Abedin and other Clinton aides. However, only FBI agents and Justice Department prosecutors directly involved in the Weiner investigation can look at the evidence, and those who took part in the Clinton email investigation, closed in July 2016, do not have the legal authority, at least not yet.

FBI Director James Comey will learn about the emails in mid-October 2016. He will be brief October 27, 2016, and he will write a letter to Congress the next day announcing that he is reopening the Clinton email investigation at least long enough to determine the possible relevance of the emails to the Clinton case. (The New York Times, 10/29/2016)

October 3, 2016—October 28, 2016: FBI agents investigating a sex scandal find evidence that could be relevant to the Clinton email investigation, and superiors grant permission to reopen that investigation.

One of many text messages between Weiner and the underage girl. (Credit: Daily Mail)

One of many text messages between Weiner and the underage girl. (Credit: Daily Mail)

On October 3, 2016, FBI agents investigating the possible sending of sexually charged messages to a teenage minor by former Representative Anthony Weiner, seize Weiner’s computer laptop. Agents soon discover that the laptop contains 650,000 emails, and many of them belong to Huma Abedin, who is a top Clinton aide as well as Weiner’s wife (although they recently separated).

The FBI agents notify Andrew McCabe, the second highest ranking FBI official, about this. They suggest some emails could be previously unknown to the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, which was closed in July 2016. In an initial review, metadata shows that thousands of emails were sent to or from the private email server that formerly hosted private email accounts of Clinton and Abedin. However, the FBI has searched the laptop looking for child pornography, and the search warrant used doesn’t give them the authority to look for evidence related to the Clinton email investigation.

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Jennifer Hill / FBI

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Jennifer Hill / FBI

Senior FBI officials allow the Weiner investigators to proceed with a closer examination of the metadata on the computer, and then report back.

FBI Director James Comey is first told about the emails around the middle of October 2016.

Around October 25, 2016, senior Justice Department and FBI officials are given an update on the Weiner laptop.

McCabe tells agents working on the Weiner investigation to talk to agents who worked on the Clinton email investigation and decide whether the laptop’s contents could be relevant to their work. The Clinton email investigation agents agree the emails could be potentially relevant. However, no warrant has yet been pursued to give them legal permission to look at the emails.

On October 27, 2016, Comey is given an updated briefing on the situation, and he decides to inform Congress that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being reopened. He does so one day later, even though Justice Department officials strongly object to making such an announcement only 11 days before the 2016 US presidential election. The necessary warrant is obtained two days later. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

October 4, 2016: WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange promises to release “significant material” over the next ten weeks, with the US presidential election four weeks away.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participates via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary

Julian Assange speaks via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of Wikileaks, on October 4, 2016. (Credit: Wikileaks)

Speaking via a video link to mark a decade since the founding of WikiLeaks, Assange says, “We hope to be publishing every week for the next ten weeks. We have on schedule, and it’s a very hard schedule, all the US election-related documents to come out before [the US presidential election on] November 8. … Our upcoming series includes significant material on war, arms, oil, Google, the US elections, and myself.”

He also dismisses speculation that releases related to US election would contain information intended to damage the presidential candidacy of Clinton. The idea that “we intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I don’t like Hillary Clinton, all those are false.”

Assange’s comments are seen as a disappointment by many of WikiLeaks supporters who are hoping for the immediate release of more politically important material. (The New York Times, 10/4/2016) However, just three days later, WikiLeaks begins releasing emails belonging to John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager.

October 5, 2016: The Justice Department allegedly made immunity side deals that ordered the destruction of key evidence and limited what the FBI could search.

Devin Nunes (Credit: public domain)

Devin Nunes (Credit: public domain)

The chairs of several House and Senate committees write a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, with questions about the limitations the Justice Department placed on the investigation of Clinton’s private server. The signatories of this letter are: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R), Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R), House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R), and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R).

According to the letter, recently released documents suggest the department, “agreed to substantial and inappropriate limitations on the scope of [the FBI’s Clinton email] investigation.” The restrictions were discovered in the course of the committees’ review of the immunity agreements for former Clinton staffers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson.

Here are some key excerpts from the letter:

  • “We write to express our concerns about the process by which Congress was allowed to view the [Beth] Wilkinson letters, that the letters inappropriately restrict the scope of the FBI’s investigation, and that the FBI inexplicably agreed to destroy the laptops knowing that the contents were the subject of Congressional subpoenas and preservation letters.” (Wilkinson is the lawyer to both Mills and Samuelson.)
  • “These limitations would necessarily have excluded, for example, any emails from Cheryl Mills to [Platte River Networks employee] Paul Combetta in late 2014 or early 2015 directing the destruction or concealment of federal records. Similarly, these limitations would have excluded any email sent or received by Secretary Clinton if it was not sent or received by one of the four email addresses listed, or the email address was altered.”
  • “Further, the Wilkinson letters memorialized the FBI’s agreement to destroy the laptops. This is simply astonishing given the likelihood that evidence on the laptops would be of interest to congressional investigators.”
  • “The Wilkinson letters raise serious questions about why [the Justice Department] would consent to such substantial limitations on the scope of its investigation, and how Director Comey’s statements on the scope of the investigation comport with the reality of what the FBI was permitted to investigate.”

In closing, so that the committee chairs can better understand the DOJ’s basis for agreeing to these restrictions, the letter includes eleven questions for Loretta Lynch, and answers must be submitted no later than October 19, 2016. (US Congress, 10/05/2016)

October 6, 2016: FBI insiders are highly critical of Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

A New York Post article claims that “[v]eteran FBI agents say FBI Director James Comey has permanently damaged the bureau’s reputation for uncompromising investigations with his ‘cowardly’ whitewash of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information using an unauthorized private email server.”

Dennis Hughes, a retired head of the FBI’s computer investigations unit, is critical that the FBI agreed to certain ground rules in some key interviews. For instance, certain topics were deemed off limits when Cheryl Mills was interviewed. Hughes says, “In my 25 years with the bureau, I never had any ground rules in my interviews.” He also comments about the investigation in general, “The FBI has politicized itself, and its reputation will suffer for a long time. I hold Director Comey responsible.”

Retired FBI agent Michael Biasello says, “Comey has single-handedly ruined the reputation of the organization.” He also says the special treatment given Clinton and her aides was “unprecedented, which is another way of saying this outcome was by design.” He calls Comey’s decision not to recommend any indictment “cowardly.”

Biasello further comments, “Each month for 27 years, I received oral and computer admonishments concerning the proper protocol for handling top secret and other classified material, and was informed of the harsh penalties, to include prosecution and incarceration,” for mishandling such material. “Had myself or my colleagues engaged in behavior of the magnitude of Hillary Clinton, as described by Comey, we would be serving time in Leavenworth.”

I.C. Smith (Credit: public domain)

I.C. Smith (Credit: public domain)

I. C. Smith worked at FBI headquarters as a section head in the National Security Division, then was head of the FBI office in Little Rock, Arkansas. He says, “FBI agents upset with Comey’s decision have every reason to feel that way. Clearly, there was a different standard applied to Clinton.”

He adds, “I have no doubt resourceful prosecutors and FBI agents could have come up with some charge that she would have been subject to prosecution. What she did is absolutely abhorrent for anyone who has access to classified information.” He suggests that Congress should subpoena agents to testify about the directions given by Comey and their supervisors. “It would be interesting to see what the results would be if those involved with the investigation were questioned under oath.”

The 25 or so agents who worked on the case cannot make any public comments, even anonymously, because they were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements and take lie detector tests. But other active agents are critical. For instance, an unnamed FBI agent still working in the Washington field office says, “The director is giving the bureau a bad rap with all the gaps in the investigation. There’s a perception that the FBI has been politicized and let down the country.” (The New York Post, 10/6/2016)

October 7, 2016: WikiLeaks publishes the first batch of emails belonging to Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta.

John Podesta (Credit: The Associated Press)

John Podesta (Credit: The Associated Press)

WikiLeaks publishes 2,060 emails it claims belong to John Podesta. Podesta is chair of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, as well as being chair of the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), and was once chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, as well as a top advisor to President Obama. WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange says the emails focus on Podesta’s “communications relating to nuclear energy, and media handling over donations to the Clinton Foundation from mining and nuclear interests.” (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016) (The Hill, 10/7/2016)

Tony Carrk (Credit: CSpan)

Tony Carrk (Credit: CSpan)

However, one email, sent by Clinton’s campaign research director Tony Carrk to Podesta and other Clinton aides on January 25, 2016, contains excerpts from dozens of Clinton’s private speeches, and draws most of the media attention. (Politico, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks labels the release as “Part I of the Podesta emails.” The emails date from 2007 to late March 2016. The next day, a WikiLeaks Tweet claims, “We have published 1% of the #PodestaEmails so far. Additional publications will proceed throughout the election period.” (WikiLeaks, 10/8/2016) (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016) Another Tweet claims therre are “well over 50,000” Podesta emails to be released. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks refuses to say where it got its material from, which is its usual policy. However, earlier in the day, the US intelligence community formally accused the Russian government of being behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, which were publicly posted by WikiLeaks as well.

Clinton’s campaign doesn’t confirm the authenticity of the emails, but doesn’t explicitly deny it either. However, Podesta comments that he is “not happy about being hacked by the Russians,” which indicates the emails are his. (Politico, 10/7/2016) (Politico, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks soon beginss posting more of Podesta’s emails on a daily basis.

October 7, 2016: The US government formally accuses the Russian government of hacking and publishing emails related to US political entities.

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James Clapper (Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper releases a statement in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security claiming that leaked emails that have appeared on a variety of websites “are intended to interfere with the US election process. … We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

The New York Times comments that the statement does “not name President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but that appear[s] to be the intention.”

Many thousands of emails and other documents have been posted in recent months on the WikiLeaks website, but WikiLeaks won’t say where their leaks come from. Two newly created websites attributed to DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 have also posted leaks. Both groups claim to have no ties to the Russian government, but the US government claims otherwise.

The statement adds that US intelligence agencies are less certain who is responsible for “scanning and probing” online voter registration lists in various US states in recent months. Those “in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company,” but the statement doesn’t assert that the Russian government is responsible.

161007KerryLavrovGenevaAFP

Kerry (left) and Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov meet in Geneva to discuss the Syrian crisis on September 9, 2016. (Credit: Agence France Presse)

The Times notes that the “announcement [comes] only hours after Secretary of State John Kerry called for the Russian and Syrian governments to face a formal war-crimes investigation over attacks on civilians in Aleppo and other parts of Syria. Taken together, the developments mark a sharp escalation of Washington’s many confrontations with [Russia] this year.”

US officials had debated for months whether or not to formally accuse Russia, and if so, when. An unnamed “senior administration official” says that with only about a month to go before the November presidential election, President Obama was “under pressure to act now,” in part because the closer the declaration would be to election day, the more political it would seem.

It is unclear what action the US will take in an attempt to punish Russia, if any. A range of options are being considered, including economic sanctions and covert cyber attacks against Russian targets. (The New York Times, 10/7/2016)

October 7, 2016—October 12, 2016: A claim that recently released WikiLeaks emails contain “obvious forgeries” is quickly debunked.

Malcolm Nance (Credit: MSNBC)

Malcolm Nance (Credit: MSNBC)

Politico calls Malcolm Nance a “former US intelligence analyst who has spoken frequently in defense of the Democratic nominee” Hillary Clinton. Within hours of WikiLeaks posting the first 2,000 hacked emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, Nance writes in a tweet: “Warning: #PodestaEmails are already proving to be riddled with obvious forgeries & #blackpropaganda not even professionally.” (Twitter,10/7/2016)

However, no such evidence of any forgeries emerges. Five days later, on October 12, 2016, Nance reverses his claim of “obvious forgeries,” saying, “We have no way of knowing whether [the WikiLeaks emails are] real or not unless Hillary Clinton goes through everything they’ve said and comes out and says it cross-correlates and this is true.”

Politico also notes that cybersecurity experts have examined the Podesta emails released so far, and have found no evidence any of them were faked. (Politico, 10/12/2016)

October 9, 2016: Trump claims that Clinton unfairly beat Bernie Sanders in the primaries and calls Clinton “the devil.”

During in the second general election presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, Clinton claims that her opponent Donald Trump never apologizes for anything, and then lists several issues he should apologize for, but never has.

Clinton and Trump spar at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Clinton and Trump spar at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

As part of his response, Trump claims that Clinton fairly lost the primary to Obama in 2008. However, he says this is “unlike the Bernie Sanders race where you won, but not fair and square, in my opinion. And all you have to do is take a look at WikiLeaks and just see what they said about Bernie Sanders and see what [Democratic National Committee chair] Debbie Wasserman Schultz had in mind, because Bernie Sanders, between superdelegates and Debra Wasserman Schultz, he never had a chance and I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil.” (Politico, 10/10/2016)

October 9, 2016: Trump strangely and repeatedly claims Clinton “acid washed” her emails.

Donald Trump (Credit: Getty Images)

Donald Trump (Credit: Getty Images)

One of the stranger comments to come from the second general election presidential debate is Donald Trump’s insistence that Clinton literally washed her deleted emails with a chemical.

While Trump speaks about appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton and to “lock her up,” he brings up her email scandal and repeatedly mentions the idea that Clinton has “acid washed” her emails.

Right before calling for a special prosecutor, he says, “The thing that you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 emails that you deleted and that you acid washed.”

This is an acid-washed vest. (Credit: public domain)

This is an acid-washed vest. (Credit: public domain)

Later in the debate, and just before reiterating the call for a special prosecutor, he says again, “You delete 33,000 emails. And then you acid wash them, or bleach them, as you would say—a very expensive process.”

Trump’s campaign claims that the comment is a play on words. But the meaning of such a play on word isn’t clear. Acid washing is a process to fade the colors in mostly blue jeans and tee-shirts.

Slate theorizes that Trump read news reports that Platte Rivers Neworks employee Paul Combetta used a free computer program called BleachBit to destroy all traces of Clinton’s emails from her private server. Then Trump began referring to Clinton “bleaching” her emails. But somehow that evolved into frequent mentions of “acid washing” instead.

Slate further theorizes that Trump has come to take these words literally. In a public speech in August 2016, Trump suggested Clinton used chemicals to destroy the emails: “Thirty-three thousand emails that she deleted. They’re gone. And not only deleted folks, she bleached—which somebody said they had never even heard of—in a very expensive fashion, used chemicals so nobody will ever be able to see ‘em. Who does this?” (Slate, 10/10/2016) (Slate, 9/1/2016)

October 9, 2016: Trump tells Clinton he would appoint a special prosecutor to look into her use of a private email server, and says he would put her in jail.

Just two days after Wikileaks releases their first batch of hacked emails from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, there is a presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, and it includes a contentious exchange between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while she is secretary of state.

Clinton and Trump spar at a presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: John Locher / The Associated Press)

Clinton and Trump spar at a presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: John Locher / The Associated Press)

He says, “I think the one that you should really be apologizing for and the thing that you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 emails that you deleted, and that you acid washed, and then the two boxes of emails and other things last week that were taken from an office and are now missing. And I’ll tell you what. I didn’t think I’d say this, but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor.”

He continues, “When I speak, I go out and speak, the people of this country are furious. In my opinion, the people that have been long-term workers at the FBI are furious. There has never been anything like this, where emails… and you get a subpoena, you get a subpoena, and after getting the subpoena, you delete 33,000 emails, and then you acid wash them or bleach them, as you would say, very expensive process. So we’re going to get a special prosecutor, and we’re going to look into it, because you know what? People have been… their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace. And honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

Clinton responds, “Everything he just said is absolutely false, but I’m not surprised.”

Trump asks, “Oh really?”

Clinton gives a long response which ends with the comment, “It’s good that somebody with the temperament of Donald Trump is not running this country.”

Trump immediately shoots back: “Because you’d be in jail.”
Anderson Cooper (left) and Martha Raddatz are the presidential debate moderators at Washington University in St. Louis on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Washington University)

Anderson Cooper (left) and Martha Raddatz are the presidential debate moderators at Washington University in St. Louis, on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Washington University)

Martha Raddatz follows up with a question for Clinton, “And Secretary Clinton, I do want to follow-up on e-mails. You’ve said your handling of your e-mails was a mistake, you’ve disagreed with the FBI Director James Comey calling your handling of classified information “extremely careless”. The FBI said there were 110 classified e-mails which were exchanged, eight of which were top secret and it was possible hostile actors did gain access to those e-mails. You don’t call that extremely careless?”

Clinton responds,… “I take classified materials very seriously and always have. When I was on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I was privy to a lot of classified material. Obviously, as secretary of state I had some of the most important secrets that we possess, such as going after Bin Laden. So, I am very committed to taking classified information seriously and as I said, there is no evidence that any classified information ended up in the wrong hands.”

Trump answers, again with the suggestion that Hillary would be in jail if she were anyone else, … “If you did that in the private sector, you’d be put in jail, let alone after getting a subpoena from the United States Congress.” (The Hill, 10/9/2016) (The New York Times, 10/9/2016)

Trump’s comments draw many reactions. His vice presidential candidate Mike Pence approves. However, many others, including Republicans, react negatively. That includes 23 former Republican Justicee Department officials, who write a letter condemning the comments.

October 9, 2016: Trump criticizes Clinton for her email scandal in the second presidential debate.

During the second general election presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, in St. Louis, Missouri, Clinton is asked by debate host Martha Raddatz, “You disagreed with FBI Director James Comey, [who called] your handling of classified information, quote, ‘extremely careless.’ The FBI said that there were 110 classified emails that were exchanged, eight of which were top secret, and that it was possible hostile actors did gain access to those emails. You don’t call that extremely careless?”

Clinton at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Clinton at the presidential debate on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Clinton gives a long answer that includes the comment, “It was a mistake, and I take responsibility. I’m very committed to taking classified information seriously. And as I said, there is no evidence that any classified information ended up in the wrong hands.”

Trump reponds: “And yet, she didn’t know the letter ‘C’ on a document? She’s lying. Do you think it was fine to delete 33,000 emails? I don’t think so. You should be ashamed of yourself. … She said the 33,000 emails had to do with her daughter’s wedding, number one, and a yoga class. Well, maybe we’ll give three or three or four or five or something. 33,000 emails deleted, and now she’s saying there wasn’t anything wrong. And more importantly, that was after getting a subpoena. That wasn’t before. That was after. She got it from the United States Congress.”

Donald Trump speaking during the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Donald Trump speaks during the presidential debate on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

After some more commentary, he finishes, “If you did that in the private sector, you’d be put in jail, let alone after getting a subpoena from the United States Congress.”

Clinton responds, “It’s just not true.”

“You didn’t delete them?” Trump asks.

“It was personal emails, not official.”

“Oh, 33,000?”

Clinton says, “Well, we turned over 35,000.” (Los Angeles Times, 10/10/2016)

This is the second time in the debate Trump threatens Clinton with jail regarding her emails. He also says she wouldn’t like it if he becomes president, “Because you’d be in jail.”

Note that Raddatz is wrong in saying Clinton exchanged eight individual “top secret” emails. In fact, there were eight “top secret” email chains involving Clinton which contained at least 22 mails. Also, Clinton actually turned over 30,068 emails to the State Department, not 35,000 as she says. She kept 31,830 emails which were later deleted, not 30,000 or 33,000, as Trump says. Furthermore, Trump’s “acid-washed” comment appears to be a garbled version of the fact that the computer program BleachBit was used to permanently wipe her emails. Finally, Clinton is incorrect claimng all the deleted emails were personal. In the month prior to this debate, it was reported that about 5,600 of her deleted emails were actually deemed work-related.

October 9, 2016—October 13, 2016: Many, including Republicans, criticize Trump for threatening to put Clinton in jail.

Donald Trump creates a firestorm of responses after the second general election presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 9, 2016, due to his threat to Clinton that “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” and that she should “be in jail.”Trump’s remarks draw widespread and bipartisan condemnation for being un-American, as well as praise coming from some supporters.

Praise for Trump’s remarks is rare, except perhaps among his ordinary supporters:

    Frank Luntz's focus group at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri. (Credit: Fox News)

    Frank Luntz’s focus group at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri. (Credit: Fox News)

  • Republican pollster Frank Luntz hosts a group of 30 undecided voters at the debate. According to the results of the poll, Trump’s highest moment during the first half of the debate is when he vows to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton if he is elected president, as well as telling her she should be “ashamed of herself” for misleading the American public on the email issue. By the end of the debate, 21 participants tell Luntz that Trump’s performance had a positive impact on their voting choice going forward, while nine are impressed by Clinton’s performance.  (The Washington Examiner, 10/09/2016)
  • Kellyanne Conway talks with reporters following the presidential debate on October 9, 2016, in St Louis, Missouri.

  • Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway says, “That was a quip.” And regarding Trump’s threat to appoint a special prosecutor, Conway says only that he was “channeling the frustration” of voters.
  • Republican vice presidential nominee and Indiana Governor Mike Pence says this comment by his running mate Trump “was one of the better moments of the debate.” (Huffington Post, 10/10/2016)

The overwhelming majority of responses by legal experts and other politicians are critical of Trump. For instance:

  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under President Obama, writes on Twitter, “In the USA we do not threaten to jail political opponents. [Donald Trump] said he would. He is promising to abuse the power of the office.”
  • John Yoo (Credit: Berkley College)

    John Yoo (Credit: Berkley College)

  • John Yoo, a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush who defended the US government’s use of torture, says that Trump “reminds me a lot of early Mussolini. . . . Very, disturbingly similar.” He also calls Trump’s promise to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Clinton is “a compounded stupidity,” because “if you are a Republican or a conservative, you think that special prosecutors are unconstitutional.” (The Washington Post, 10/12/2016)
  • Paul Charlton, a former federal prosecutor and US attorney under George W. Bush, states, “For Donald Trump to say he will have a special prosecutor appointed and to have tried and convicted her already and say she’d go to jail is wholly inappropriate and the kind of talk more befitting a Third World country than it is our democracy. … The Department of Justice isn’t a political tool and it ought not to be employed that way.”
  • Marc Jimenez (Credit: public domain)

    Marc Jimenez (Credit: public domain)

  • Marc Jimenez, a lawyer who served on the legal team backing Bush in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court showdown and also was a US attorney under George W. Bush, says: “This statement demonstrates the clear and present danger that Trump presents to our justice system. For a president to ‘instruct’ an attorney general to commence any prosecution or take any particular action is abhorrent. If it occurred, it would be a politically motivated decision that would cheapen the Department of Justice and contradict the core principle that prosecutors should never consider political factors in their charging or other decisions.”
  • Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor who worked in George W. Bush’s White House, says: “A special prosecutor is supposed to investigate and isn’t appointed to put people in jail. You’re kind of skipping over an important step there. Can you imagine being the defendant prosecuted after being told the prosecutor was someone who was appointed to put you in jail, that had already foreordained that result? … It’s absurd and, if it were serious, it would be absolutely terrifying because it suggests there’s no due process.” (Politico, 10/10/2016)
  • Ari Fleischer (Credit: Jim Young / Reuters)

    Ari Fleischer (Credit: Jim Young / Reuters)

  • Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary under George W. Bush and a supporter of Trump, writes on Twitter, “Winning candidates don’t threaten to put opponents in jail. Presidents don’t threaten prosecution of individuals. Trump is wrong on this.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/10/2016)
  • Michael Mukasey, who served as attorney general for George W. Bush, says, “That to me is the… is a watershed event… that it’s the president of a different party. That makes it an entirely different kind of exercise in my view.” Mukasey spoke at the Republican convention in July 2016, but he says Trump’s suggestion “would make us look like a banana republic.” (NPR, 10/10/2016)
  • Paul Staniland (Credit: University of Chicago)

    Paul Staniland (Credit: University of Chicago)

  • Paul Staniland, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, says these kinds of attacks “can undermine the whole idea of democratic elections, where each side agrees that whoever won will then rule. … This is something that, as someone who studies the developing world and political violence, is kind of freaky. It kind of reminds me of Bangladesh. Thailand is like this, too. You have this real sense that whoever wins the election will go after the loser. Even if leaders succeed only rarely in using the state to punish their rivals, that can quickly spiral out of control, turning politics into a zero-sum game for control over the institutions of law and order.”
  • Sheri Berman, a professor of political science at Barnard College in New York, says, “The rhetoric alone is extremely dangerous because it undermines people’s belief in our democratic institutions and process. Strongmen typically come to power in democracies, by telling citizens to distrust institutions and procedure — that what is needed is to burn it all down.”
  • Adrian LeBas (Credit: Wilson Center)

    Adrian LeBas (Credit: Wilson Center)

  • Adrienne LeBas, a political scientist at American University, says Trump’s comment is “a threat to the rule of law, a threat to the stability of our institutions, a threat to basic agreements that are necessary for democracy to function. For those of us who work on authoritarian regimes and hybrid regimes, this sort of thing is just eerily familiar.” She calls this “the absolute personalization of power,” similar to what has been seen in “Zimbabwe, Togo, Ethiopia, cases like that, where there are explicit threats to imprison opponents.” (New York Times, 10/11/2016)
  • Twenty-three Republican former Justice Department officials sign a statement criticizing his jail threat and calling for Trump’s defeat in November, 2016.

October 9, 2016: Clinton confirms the authenticity of a key email about her private paid speeches.

On January 25, 2016, Clinton’s head researcher Tony Carrk sent an email to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and other Clinton aides that consisted of dozens of pages of potentially politically damaging quotes from Clinton’s private paid speeches. The review included a speech Clinton gave that reflected on the necessity of having “unsavory” political dealings, and said that “you need both a public and private position.” (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks released the email on October 7, 2016, as part of a release of thousands of emails from the private email account of Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. The Clinton campaign refuses to confirm the authenticity of any of the WikiLeaks emails.

However, during the second general election presidential debate in St. Louis, on October 9, 2016, Clinton  seemingly confirms the authenticity of this key email in one of her comments.

Martha Raddatz is a moderator at the second presidential debate on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

Debate moderator Martha Raddatz asks Clinton: “This question involves WikiLeaks release of purported excerpts of Secretary Clinton’s paid speeches, which she has refused to release, and one line in particular, in which you, Secretary Clinton, purportedly say you need both a public and private position on certain issues. So… is it okay for politicians to be two-faced? Is it acceptable for a politician to have a private stance on issues?”

Clinton replies: “Well, right. As I recall, that was something I said about Abraham Lincoln after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie called ‘Lincoln.’ It was a master class watching President Lincoln get the Congress to approve the 13th Amendment. It was principled, and it was strategic. And I was making the point that it is hard sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want to do and you have to keep working at it. And, yes, President Lincoln was trying to convince some people, he used some arguments, convincing other people, he used other arguments. That was a great — I thought a great display of presidential leadership.”

Clinton speaking at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 7, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton speaking at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

In essence, Clinton acknowledges her controversial phrase “having a public and private position” in the Carrk email is authentic, by describing in detail what she meant when she said it.

Clinton then further replies to Raddatz’s question: “But, you know, let’s talk about what’s really going on here, Martha, because our intelligence community just came out and said in the last few days that the Kremlin, meaning Putin and the Russian government, are directing the attacks, the hacking on American accounts to influence our election. And WikiLeaks is part of that, as are other sites where the Russians hack information, we don’t even know if it’s accurate information, and then they put it out. We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election. And believe me, they’re not doing it to get me elected. They’re doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump.” (New York Times, 10/10/2016)

October 10, 2016: Vice presidential candidate Mike Pence says Trump threatening to jail Clinton “was one of the better moments of the debate.”

Mike Pence (Credit: Mark Taylor / Flickr)

Mike Pence (Credit: Mark Taylor / Flickr)

Republican vice presidential nominee and Indiana governor Mike Pence agrees with Donald Trump threat to Clinton a day earlier in the second general election presidential debate that If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” and that she should “be in jail.”

Pence states, “It was one of the better moments of the debate.” He adds that “these remarks were simply referring to [Trump’s] promise to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Clinton’s use of a private server during her time as secretary of state and whether she allowed special access to donors to the Clinton Foundation. … What Donald Trump said is no one is going to be above the law. There’s going to be no double standards and we’re going to look into and get to the bottom of this, which I think is what the American people would fully expect, an even application of the law and I fully support him.”

Pence also believes Trump’s plan is no different from what the FBI was considering six months ago with its Clinton email investigation, though that resulted in a decision not to indict her.

Many Republicans have largely accepted and encouraged calls to imprison Clinton. For instance, the Republican National Convention included frequent chants from the crowd to ““lock her up,” and Trump has previously said Clinton “has got to go to jail.” (Huffington Post, 10/10/2016)

October 11, 2016: Twenty-three former Republican Justice Department officials criticize Trump for threatening Clinton with jail.

During the second general election presidential debate in St. Louis, Donald Trump tells Hillary Clinton “you’ll be in jail” if he wins the presidency. The threat has prompted a group of Republican former Justice Department officials to call for Trumps defeat in November 2016.

Donald I. Baker (Credit: George Washington University)

Donald I. Baker (Credit: George Washington University)

Donald Ayer, who served as deputy attorney general under George H. W. Bush, and Donald I. Baker, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division under Gerald Ford, organized the statement. It is signed by 23 former officials served under five Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, and claims, “None of us will vote for Mr. Trump and all believe he must be defeated at the polls.”

The statement reads: “We believe that Donald Trump’s impulsive treatment, flair for controversy, vindictive approach to his opponents and alarming views outside the constitutional mainstream ill suit him to oversee the execution of the laws in a fair and evenhanded manner.”

The former officials say Trump’s threats are “shockingly contrary to the premises of our democracy, and conjures up images of foreign police states.” Trump’s “every word seems calculated to create an atmosphere of arbitrariness and unpredictability much better suited to an authoritarian regime.”

William Ruckelshaus (Credit: Energy Foundation)

William Ruckelshaus (Credit: Energy Foundation)

The Wall Street Journal writes, “One notable signer is former Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, who, along with the late Attorney General Elliot Richardson, resigned in 1973 rather than carry out President Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in an episode known as the Saturday Night Massacre.”

The letter also condemns Trump for proposing to re-institute waterboarding and inflict other forms of torture on enemy prisoners and to kill the families of terrorists, saying those demonstrate his “basic ignorance of the facts as well as the role of our legal system in the fight against terror.” (Wall Street Journal, 10/11/2016)

October 11, 2016: Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta blames Russia and Trump for the leak of his personal emails.

John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair, publicly comments about the fact that WikiLeaks started releasing his personal emails on October 7, 2016.

Clinton campaign chair John Podesta speaks to the press on October 7, 2016 as Clinton’s Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri looks on. (Credit: Reuters)

He blames the Russian government for hacking his Gmail account, though he offers no specific evidence. “I’ve been involved in politics for nearly five decades, and this definitely is the first campaign that I’ve been involved with in which I’ve had to tangle with Russian intelligence agencies, who seem to be doing everything they

can on behalf of our opponent.”

He also says that the FBI communicated with him on October 9, 2016, and told him the breach of his email account has become part of a larger investigation into recent hacks of US political entities, for which the US government generally blames the Russian government.

Roger Stone (Credit: The Hill)

Roger Stone (Credit: The Hill)

Podesta claims that it is likely the Russians are trying to help the presidential campaign of Donald Trump (R), due to Trump having policies that are more politically favorable to Russia. He points to a Tweet made by Trump confidant Roger Stone on August 21, 2016, in which Stone wrote that it would soon be “Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Due to this Tweet, Podesta says, “I think it’s a reasonable assumption, or at least a reasonable conclusion, that Mr. Stone had advanced warning and the Trump campaign had advanced warning about what Assange was going to do.” (The Washington Post, 10/11/2016)

The next day, the official WikiLeaks Twitter account posts the Tweet, “As we have already stated clearly: WikiLeaks has had no contact with Roger Stone.” (WikiLeaks, 10/12/2016)

One day after that, Stone claims that his Tweet was in reference to a separate story he was working on that would accuse Podesta of possible criminal wrongdoing. But he also says that he has had “back-channel communications” with WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange through a mutual friend. (CBS Miami, 10/12/2016)

October 12, 2016: An unnamed high-ranking FBI official claims that the “vast majority” of agents working on the FBI’s Clinton email investigation believe Clinton should have been indicted.

The “high-ranking FBI official” speaks to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, but the person’s “identity and role in the case has been verified by FoxNews.com.” According to this source, “No trial level attorney agreed, no agent working the case agreed, with the decision not to prosecute” anyone in the investigation at all, but “it was a top-down decision” by FBI Director James Comey.

The source says that when it came to Clinton specifically, “It is safe to say the vast majority felt she should be prosecuted. We were floored while listening to the FBI briefing [on July 5, 2016] because Comey laid it all out, and then said ‘but we are doing nothing,’ which made no sense to us.” And while it might not have been a totally unanimous decision to recommend Clinton’s indictment, “It was unanimous that we all wanted her [Clinton’s] security clearance yanked.” However, even that never happened, despite it being standard procedure in similar cases.

The source adds that FBI agents were particularly upset that Comey unilaterally made the decision not to indict when the FBI’s role is merely to present an investigative report to the Justice Department. “Basically, James Comey hijacked the [Justice Department]’s role by saying ‘no reasonable prosecutor would bring this case.’ The FBI does not decide who to prosecute and when, that is the sole province of a prosecutor. … I know zero prosecutors in the [Justice Department]’s National Security Division who would not have taken the case to a grand jury. One was never even convened.” Without a grand jury, FBI agents were not allowed to issue subpoenas or search warrants and could only request evidence and interviews.

The source also complains that the FBI required its agents and analysts involved in the investigation to sign non-disclosure agreements. “This is unheard of, because of the stifling nature it has on the investigative process.”

Furthermore, immunity deals were made with five key figures in the investigation: Cheryl Mills, Bryan Pagliano, Paul Combetta, John Bentel, and Heather Samuelson. The source says none of them should have been granted immunity if no charges were being brought. “[Immunity] is issued because you know someone possesses evidence you need to charge the target, and you almost always know what it is they possess. That’s why you give immunity. … Mills and Samuelson receiving immunity with the agreement their laptops would be destroyed by the FBI afterwards is, in itself, illegal. We know those laptops contained classified information. That’s also illegal, and they got a pass.”

Additionally, “Mills was allowed to sit in on the interview of Clinton as her lawyer. That’s absurd. Someone who is supposedly cooperating against the target of an investigation [being] permitted to sit by the target as counsel violates any semblance of ethical responsibility.”

The source also comments, “Every agent and attorney I have spoken to is embarrassed and has lost total respect for James Comey and [Attorney General] Loretta Lynch. The bar for [the Justice Department] is whether the evidence supports a case for charges — it did here. It should have been taken to the grand jury.”

Finally, the source claims that many in the FBI and the Justice Department believe Comey and Lynch were motivated by ambition instead of justice. “Loretta Lynch simply wants to stay on as attorney general under Clinton, so there is no way she would indict. James Comey thought his position [heavily criticizing Clinton even as he decides against indicting her] gave himself cover to remain on as director regardless of who wins.”

Andrew Napolitano (Credit: Fox News)

Andrew Napolitano (Credit: Fox News)

Andrew Napolitano, a former judge and judicial analyst for Fox News, also claims to know of many law enforcement agents involved with the Clinton email investigation who have similar beliefs. He says, “It is well known that the FBI agents on the ground, the human beings who did the investigative work, had built an extremely strong case against Hillary Clinton and were furious when the case did not move forward. They believe the decision not to prosecute came from the White House.” (Fox News, 10/12/2016)

The next day, Malia Zimmerman, a co-writer of the article, is questioned on Fox News television. She claims that she has been speaking to other disgruntled FBI agents as well. “They’re saying that the morale is very low and that a lot of them are looking for other jobs. They’re very disappointed. They feel like the agency has been polluted… and they’re embarrassed. They feel like they’ve been betrayed.”

She adds that some of her sources might be willing to speak on the record if they retire or change jobs, which some of them are in the process of doing. But they are currently worried about retaliation. “There are a lot of disgruntled agents, analysts, and [Justice Department] attorneys as well.” These people feel Clinton could have been charged for various reasons, but her 22 “top secret” emails made the most compelling case. (Fox News, 10/13/2016)

October 12, 2016: The Clinton campaign suggests that some emails released by WikiLeaks could be forgeries, but experts have found no evidence of this.

Tim Kaine appears on CNN's "State of the Union" on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Tim Kaine appears on CNN’s “State of the Union” on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Since October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks has been publishing an average of about 2,000 emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta every day. Podesta and the Clinton campaign has admitted his account got hacked, but they have suggested that some of the emails could be forgeries. For instance, on October 9, 2016, Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine said in a CNN interview, “I don’t think we can dignify documents dumped by WikiLeaks and just assume they are all accurate and true. Anybody who hacks in to get documents is completely capable of manipulating them.”

However, Politico reports, “Clinton’s team hasn’t challenged the accuracy of even the most salacious emails… And numerous digital forensic firms told Politico that they haven’t seen any proof of tampering in the emails they’ve examined — adding that only the hacked Democrats themselves could offer that kind of conclusive evidence.”

Laura Galante (Credit: Bloomberg News)

Laura Galante (Credit: Bloomberg News)

Laura Galante, a director of the cybersecurity company FireEye, says, “It’s very hard to go verify what is true and what’s not. Even the victims of the accounts that are getting exposed are having a hard time.”

Politico also comments, “Experts have warned for months about the possibility that the document leaks may eventually include a sprinkling of falsehoods to stoke their impact, noting that Russian and Soviet intelligence services had long used such techniques against their enemies.” The US government alleges that the Russian government has been behind some recent hacking of US political entities.

A WikiLeaks spokesperson dismisses claims some of the emails are fake. “Standard nonsense pushed by those who have something to hide. WikiLeaks has won a great many awards for its journalistic work and has the best vetting record of any media organization. … In fact, it’s completely legitimate to everyone in the journalism industry that [the emails] are exactly as we say they are, which is why everyone is running with them.”

Thomas Rid (Credit: Kings College, London)

Thomas Rid (Credit: Kings College, London)

However, some experts point out that hackers could have tampered with emails before giving them to WikiLeaks, or they may choose to only selectively hand over emails that promote a certain political agenda.

Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity researcher and professor, says, “Of course it would be more effective for [the Russians] not to undermine the credibility of WikiLeaks in any way by altering documents. But if we look at their past behavior, that is certainly something that has been considered and actually done in the past.” (Politico, 10/12/2016)

October 12, 2016: The Russian government denies the US government allegation that it is behind the hacking of US political figures.

Sergei Lavrov (Credit: Kirill Kudryavtsev / Agence France Press / Getty Images)

Sergey Lavrov (Credit: Kirill Kudryavtsev / Agence France Press / Getty Images)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov comments in a CNN interview about the US government formally accusing the Russian government of being behind recent hacks and public releases of emails from prominent US political figures. Lavrov says, “Now everybody in the United States is saying that it is Russia which is running the presidential debate. …. We have not seen a single fact, a single proof.” (Politico, 10/12/2016)

October 12, 2016: Mike Pence doubles down on Trump’s promise to have a special prosecutor investigate Clinton if Trump wins the White House.

During the second presidential debate on October 9, 2016, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump threatened to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton and put her in jail should he become president.

Mike Pence rallies in Raleigh, North Carolina on October 12, 2016. (Credit: Gerry Broom / The Associated Press)

Mike Pence rallies in Raleigh, North Carolina on October 12, 2016. (Credit: Gerry Broom / The Associated Press)

Four days later, at a Republican campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence doubles down on Trump’s promise, saying, “When we make Donald Trump the next president of the United States of America, we will once again uphold the principle that no one is above the law … We will appoint a special prosecutor who will get to the bottom of the Clinton Foundation and hold them accountable.”

Pence focuses on Clinton’s use of a private server while she was secretary of state, and voices a concern about the alleged improprieties that surround the Clinton Foundation.
Politico writes, “The crowd ate it up, with members of the audience shouting ‘traitor,’ ‘lock her up,’ and ‘treason’ during Pence’s remarks.”

Trump also doubles down on the same day, saying at a campaign rally in Florida, “She deleted the emails,” and “She has to go to jail.” (Politico, 10/12/2016)

Mid-October 2016: Comey is first told that FBI investigators have discovered previously unknown emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

One of many text messages Weiner sent to an under-aged girl. (Credit: The Daily Mail)

One of many text messages Weiner sent to an under-aged girl. (Credit: The Daily Mail)

On October 3, 2016, FBI agents seized the computer and mobile devices of former Congressperson Anthony Weiner (D) as part of an investigation into him allegedly sending sexual text messages to an underaged girl. FBI agents soon came to believe that thousands of emails on his computer were actually sent or received by his wife and top Clinton aide Huma Abedin and thus might be relevant to the recently closed FBI Clinton email investigation.

According to CNN on October 31, 2016, “By mid-October, [FBI Director James] Comey learned investigators in the Weiner case might have found something that could have an impact on the now-closed probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, according to one law enforcement official. Comey was told investigators were still trying to figure out how many emails existed and their pertinence to the Clinton probe.”

Comey will then be given a full briefing with updated information on October 27, 2016. Based on that briefing, he will send a letter to Congress the next day announcing that he is reopening the investigation due to the new evidence. (CNN, 10/31/2016)

October 17, 2016: Ecuador cuts the Internet access for the leader of WikiLeaks due to its impact on the US presidential election.

Julian Assange stands on a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, on February 5, 2016.  (Credit: Getty Images)

On October 17, 2016, Julian Assange, the leader of WikiLeaks, announces that his Internet access has been cut off. Assange, an Australian citizen, was granted diplomatic asylum in 2012 by Ecuador. He has been living in the Ecuador embassy in London ever since, due to fears that he could be arrested by the US or Sweden.

In late July 2016, WikiLeaks published 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Since October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks has been publishing emails from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta on a daily basis, with the US presidential election due to take place on November 8, 2016.

One day later, the government of Ecuador says it had temporarily restricted Assange’s Internet access, due to WikiLeaks releasing documents “impacting on the US election campaign. … The Government of Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in external electoral processes, nor does it favor any particular candidate.” However, Ecuador reaffirms its commitment to giving Assange asylum.

Despite the restriction, WikiLeaks continues to publish new Podesta emails every day, and continues posting Tweets on the official WikiLeaks Twitter feed. WikiLeaks accuses Secretary of State John Kerry of pressuring Ecuador into taking action. However, both the US and Ecuador governments deny that. (Politico, 10/18/2016) (Guardian, 10/18/2016)

October 17, 2016: It is alleged two disgruntled FBI agents complain about Comey’s handling of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.

The Daily Caller claims to have a transcript of two active FBI agents who were interviewed by an intermediary on October 14, 2016. Both of them are very critical of the way FBI Director James Comey handled the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.

One unnamed FBI agent “who has worked public corruption and criminal cases” says, “This is a textbook case where a grand jury should have convened but was not. That is appalling. We talk about it in the office and don’t know how Comey can keep going.”

The Clinton family home in Chappaqua, New York. (Credit: Kathy Willens / The Associated Press)

The Clinton family home in Chappaqua, New York. (Credit: Kathy Willens / The Associated Press)

This agent also complains, “We didn’t search their house [the Clinton residence in Chappaqua, New York]. We always search the house. The search should not just have been for private electronics, which contained classified material, but even for printouts of such material. … There should have been a complete search of their residence. That the FBI did not seize devices is unbelievable. The FBI even seizes devices that have been set on fire.”

A different unnamed FBI agent who has “worked counter-terrorism and criminal cases” says he was offended by Comey saying: “we” and “I’ve been an investigator.” This agent points out, “Comey was never an investigator or [FBI] agent. The special agents are trained investigators and they are insulted that Comey included them in ‘collective we’ statements in his testimony to imply that the [agents] agreed that there was nothing there to prosecute. All the trained investigators agree that there is a lot to prosecuted, but he stood in the way. … The idea that [the investigation] didn’t go to a grand jury is ridiculous.”

Joseph DiGenova (Credit: public domain)

Joseph DiGenova (Credit: public domain)

Joseph DiGenova, a former US attorney for the District of Columbia, says, “People [inside the FBI] are starting to talk. They’re calling their former friends outside the bureau asking for help. We were asked today to provide legal representation to people inside the bureau and agreed to do so and to former agents who want to come forward and talk. Comey thought this was going to go away. It’s not. People inside the bureau are furious. They are embarrassed. They feel like they are being led by a hack but more than that that they think he’s a crook. They think he’s fundamentally dishonest. They have no confidence in him.” (The Daily Caller, 10/17/2016)

October 25, 2016: Rudy Giuliani seemingly predicts Comey’s bombshell reopening of the Clinton email investigation, leading to calls he should be investigated for taking part in leaks.

Rudy Giuliani appears on Fox News, on November 4, 2016. (Credit: Fox News)

Rudy Giuliani says in a Fox News interview that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had “a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days. I’m talking about some pretty big surprise.”

Pressed for specifics, he says he’s “got a couple of things up our sleeve that should turn this thing around.” Giuliani is a former US attorney, former mayor of New York City, and a frequent media surrogate for the Trump campaign. (Real Clear Politics, 10/25/2016)

Three days after his comments, FBI Director James Comey will send a letter to Congress announcing that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being at least partially reopened, due to the discovery of new evidence.

As a result of this sequence of events, Democratic Representatives Elijah Cummings and John Conyers will call for an investigation into a possible leak of confidential information to Giuliani.

Megyn Kelly (Credit: Fox News)

On November 4, 2016, Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly will ask Giuliani about this controversy. He will say, “You can investigate me. I spoke to no current FBI agents ever in the last ten months. I’ve had no communication with them.” He says he has spoken to many former FBI agents though, but he was only told they were “in revolt” since July 2016 when Comey announced he wasn’t going to recommend the indictment of Clinton.

Giuliani will claim he was talking about Trump’s planned television advertising over the weekend.

Kelly will comment, “That would have been kind of lame. You should have been glad that something bigger came out to not make a liar out of you.”

He will then say, “I had no idea that Jim Comey was going to do what he did. Not the slightest idea.” (Fox News, 11/4/2016)

On a different interview the same day, with Fox News journalist Brian Kilmeade, Giuliani will say, “All I heard were former FBI agents telling me that there’s revolution going on inside the FBI and it’s now at a boiling point…”

Kilmeade will interrupt, “So you had a general idea that something was coming.”

Giuliani will respond, “I had expected this for the last, honestly to tell you the truth, I thought it was going to be about three or four weeks ago, because back, way back in July [2016] this started, they kept getting stymied looking for subpoenas, looking for records.”

The Washington Post will comment, “The answer suggests Giuliani is claiming to have known not of the development in the Clinton email case, but of [general FBI agent] frustration over the Clinton Foundation matter.” (The Washington Post, 11/4/2016)

The FBI Agents Association Logo (Credit: public domain)

The FBI Agents Association Logo (Credit: public domain)

However, in contradiction to Giuliani’s claim “I spoke to no current FBI agents ever in the last ten months,” on October 28, 2016, hours after Comey’s letter is made public, Giuliani will say in a radio interview,  “The other rumor that I get is that there’s a kind of revolution going on inside the FBI about the original conclusion [not to charge Clinton] being completely unjustified and almost a slap in the face to the FBI’s integrity. I know that from former agents. I know that even from a few active agents.”

The Daily Beast will note that Giuliani “spent decades of his life as a federal prosecutor and then mayor working closely with the FBI, and especially its New York office. One of Giuliani’s security firms employed a former head of the New York FBI office, and other alumni of it.” Furthermore, his former law firm has long been general counsel to the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), which represents 13,000 former and current agents. (The Daily Beast, 11/2/2016)

October 27, 2016: Comey is briefed and decides to announce the reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, but Justice Department officials are strongly opposed.

Abedin and Weiner leave their home separately, the day before the sexting scandal broke in September, 2016. (Credit: The Daily Mail)

Abedin and Weiner leave their home separately, the day before the sexting scandal broke in September, 2016. (Credit: The Daily Mail)

In early October 2016, FBI agents discovered 650,000 emails on a computer owned by Anthony Weiner, the husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Though the agents were investigating Weiner for something unrelated, they eventually brief FBI agents who had worked on the recently closed FBI Clinton email investigation, and those agents say they would like to have the legal permission to look at the emails themselves.

Apparently, FBI Director James Comey first learns about the emails in mid-October 2016. Then he is given an updated briefing about it on this day. He decides he should immediately inform Congress about the development, even though the 2016 US presidential election is less than two weeks away. He does so in a letter sent one day later, which immediately becomes public.

However, Justice Department officials are opposed. According to the New York Times, “Senior Justice Department officials did not move to stop him from sending the letter, officials said, but they did everything short of it, pointing to policies against talking about current criminal investigations or being seen as meddling in elections.”

James Comey (Credit: Getty Images)

James Comey (Credit: Getty Images)

According to the Times, Comey decides to write his letter “before agents even began reading the newly discovered emails to determine whether they contained classified information or added new facts to the case.” This puzzles Justice Department officials. Apparently, some agents were only able to analyze the metadata.

It has long been Justice Department and FBI policy that politics should play no role in any investigative decisions. This is particularly emphasized for any actions taken within 60 days prior to an election. (The New York Times, 10/29/2016)

One unnamed “US official familiar with the matter” tells Yahoo News that senior officials “strongly discouraged” Comey from sending the letter, due to that department policy, adding, “He was acting independently of the guidance given to him.” One government source says that high-ranking Justice Department officials are “apoplectic” about the letter.

However, after listening to the Justice Department’s concerns, Comey concludes that the ramifications of not telling Congress promptly about the new emails far outweigh concerns about the department guidelines. He fears if he doesn’t immediately alert Congress, the FBI’s work will leak to the media and he will be accused of concealing information. If the news comes out before the election, he will be accused of trying to influence the election one way, but if it comes out after the election, he will be accused of trying to influence it the other way. One unnamed senior official says, “This was the least bad choice.”

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George J. Terwilliger III (Credit: McGuire Woods)

Many will criticize Comey for the letter, including some Republicans. For instance, George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general under President George Bush (R), says, “There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election. Those guidelines exist for a reason. Sometimes, that makes for hard decisions. But bypassing them has consequences. There’s a difference between being independent and flying solo.” (The New York Times, 10/29/2016) (Yahoo News, 10/29/2016)

Politico reports that according to an unnamed “official familiar with the discussions,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch does not speak directly with Comey about the issue. However, her concerns are conveyed to him before he sends the letter. In late June 2016, Lynch pledged to recuse herself from the email investigation after she was seen having a private discussion with Bill Clinton. (Politico, 10/31/2016)

October 27, 2016: Putin scoffs at allegations of Russian involvement in the hacking of US presidential politics.

Vladimir Putin meets with members of the Valdai Discussion Club on October 27, 2016. (Credit: The Valdai Discussion Club)

Vladimir Putin meets with members of the Valdai Discussion Club on October 27, 2016. (Credit: The Valdai Discussion Club)

In a public speech at the Valdai Discussion Club, a Russian think tank outside of Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses allegations that the Russian government is behind the hacking of US political entities.

“Another mythical and imaginary problem is what I can only call the hysteria the USA has whipped up over supposed Russian meddling in the American presidential election. The United States has plenty of genuinely urgent problems, it would seem, from the colossal public debt to the increase in firearms violence and cases of arbitrary action by the police. You would think that the election debates would concentrate on these and other unresolved problems, but the elite has nothing with which to reassure society, it seems, and therefore attempt to distract public attention by pointing instead to supposed Russian hackers, spies, agents of influence and so forth.”

He adds, “I have to ask myself and ask you too: Does anyone seriously imagine that Russia can somehow influence the American people’s choice? America is not some kind of ‘banana republic’, after all, but is a great power.” (Valdaidclub.com, 10/27/2016)

October 28, 2016: Comey reveals the Clinton email investigation is at least partially reopened due to the discovery of Huma Abedin emails in an unrelated case, shocking the US presidential race just 11 days before the election.

FBI Director James Comey sends a letter to eight Congressional committees, informing them that emails relevant to the Clinton email investigation have surfaced in another unrelated case, causing at least a partial reopening of the investigation. This is a major political shock and an unprecedented action, since it comes just 11 days before the US presidential election.

Huma Abedin and husband Anthony Weiner (Credit: Elinor Carucci / Vanity Fair)

Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner (Credit: Elinor Carucci / Vanity Fair)

Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s longtime close aides and her deputy chief of staff during her tenure as secretary of state, is married to Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic Congressperson. However, she is estranged from him and began divorce proceedings against him two months earlier, due to his repeated sex scandals. In his most recent scandal, it is alleged he sent illicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl. This led to an FBI investigation, and his computer and electronic devices were seized by the FBI on October 3, 2016. When his computer was examined, it was determined that it had been used by both Abedin and Weiner, and thousands of Abedin’s emails were found that could be relevant to the Clinton email investigation. That discovery in turn led to Comey being briefed on October 27, 2016, and then his surprise announcement one day later.

The New York Times reports calls Comey’s letter an “October surprise” that has “rocked” the 2016 presidential race. It has “left Mrs. Clinton’s team furious and scrambling for explanations while bolstering the spirits of Donald J. Trump after a wave of controversies and Republican defections had led many to write him off.”

Comey writes a very short letter that fails to mention many details. It states, in full: “In previous Congressional testimony, I referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.”

James Comey (Credit: public domain)

James Comey (Credit: public domain)

“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigation team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to access their importance to our investigation.

“Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016) (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

Later the same day, Comey also sends a short letter to all FBI officials, explaining his decision to send the letter. It is immediately leaked to the public. In it, he says, “Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.  In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.” (The Washington Post, 10/28/2016)

The New York Times further reveals that Comey was only briefed about the emails the day before, and they have not yet been closely examined. “A senior law enforcement official said that tens of thousands of emails belonging to Ms. Abedin were on Mr. Weiner’s laptop…” However, “Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server.” It is also unknown how many could be duplicates of previously known emails. (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

The Washington Post reports, “The correspondence included emails between Abedin and Clinton, according to a law enforcement official.” (The Washington Post, 10/28/2016)

Clinton and other Democrats are highly critical of Comey’s letter while Trump and other Republicans praise it.

October 28, 2016: The White House allegedly gets no advance notice of Comey’s letter.

Eric Schultz (Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / The Associated Press)

Eric Schultz (Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / The Associated Press)

White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz speaks to reporters about FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress announcing that he is at least partially reopening the Clinton email investigation due to newly discovered emails. Schultz says, “We got it through press reports. We had that letter after it was made public, so we did not have advance warning.”

He adds, “The president’s expectation is that all FBI efforts follow the facts wherever they lead.” (Politico, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Trump praises Comey’s letter and says “this changes everything.”

Trump speaks at a rally on October 28, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Credit: Darren McCollister / Getty Images)

Trump speaks at a rally on October 28, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Credit: Darren McCollister / Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.

At a campaign rally, Trump says, “Perhaps, finally, justice will be done. … Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.” For weeks, he had been highly critical of the FBI, but now he says, “I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the [Justice Department] are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made. This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understand. It is everybody’s hope that it is about to be corrected.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

He adds in a brief New York Times interview, “I think it’s the biggest story since Watergate. I think this changes everything.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: A Republican Representative leaks Comey’s letter to Congress.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (Credit: Jose Luis Magana / Reuters)

Representative Jason Chaffetz (Credit: Jose Luis Magana / Reuters)

On this day, FBI Director James Comey sends a letter to eight Congressional committees, revealing that the FBI is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation due to newly discovered evidence.

Shortly thereafter, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, reveals in a Tweet: “FBI Dir [Director] just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.’ Case reopened.” The full text of Comey’s letter is leaked to the media a short time later that same day.

Three days later, Chaffetz comments, “I thought I would put it out there. People have a right to know. It was newsworthy. It caught me by surprise. … It is absolutely correct” that the investigation is being reopened, after concluding in July 2016. “They are spending time, money and resources investigating. Nobody knows where it’s going to lead, but the reality is, it is reopened.”

The Democratic Coalition Against Trump announces on October 31, 2016 that it has filed a complaint against Chaffetz with the Office of Congressional Ethics “for his role in releasing information” from Comey. The coalition has also lodged a complaint against Comey with the Justice Department, requesting an investigation into whether his letter violated the federal Hatch Act for taking a political action shortly before an election. (Deseret News, 10/31/2016)

October 28, 2016: Democrats criticize Comey’s announcement regarding the FBI’s discovery of new information relevant to the Clinton email investigation.

Diane Feinstein (Credit: Arno Burgi / Zuma)

Senator Diane Feinstein (Credit: Arno Burgi / Zuma)

Prominent Democratic politicians react to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.

Clinton campaign chair John Podesta says, “Director Comey’s letter refers to emails that have come to light in an unrelated case, but we have no idea what those emails are and the director himself notes they may not even be significant. … It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election.”

Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), says, “The FBI has a solemn obligation to remain neutral in political matters — even the faintest appearance of using the agency’s power to influence our election is deeply troubling.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), says, “This is particularly troubling since so many questions are unanswered. … It’s unclear whether these emails have already been reviewed or if Secretary Clinton sent or received them. In fact, we don’t even know if the FBI has these emails in its possession.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Republicans applaud Comey’s announcement regarding the FBI’s discovery of new information relevant to the Clinton email investigation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (Credit: Molly Riley / The Associated Press)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (Credit: Molly Riley / The Associated Press)

Prominent Republican politicians react to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.

Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus says, “The FBI’s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server just 11 days before the election shows how serious this discovery must be. … This stunning development raises serious questions about what records may not have been turned over and why, and whether they show intent to violate the law.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) says, “Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame. She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.” He argues that she should no longer be allowed to receive classified briefings. (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Former FBI officials argue that Comey wouldn’t have reopened the Clinton email investigation so soon before the presidential election unless there was substantial new evidence.

After FBI Director James Comey reopens the FBI’s Clinton email investigation on October 28, 2016, there is much public debate why he would this given that there are only 11 days before the US presidential election. Politico reports that some FBI officials claim that it is “inconceivable to them that Comey would announce such a development because of some incremental or cumulative information in such a high-wattage case.”

One unnamed former FBI official says, “It never happens. Once you vacate a high-profile case, unless there’s some very significant omission, they won’t [reopen] it. … Comey’s not that way. He’s a very practical man. It must be something that goes to the substance. It can’t be cumulative. He’s not a grandstander… It’s not his style.”

Another unnamed “former high-ranking FBI official” says, “The only reason he’d do it is if he had something very pertinent. Certainly, 11 days before an election it could well affect the outcome. It just doesn’t make much sense without something very substantive.” (Politico, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Carl Bernstein says the FBI’s announcement must mean there is a “real bombshell” in the newly discovered evidence.

Carl Bernstein (Credit: public domain)

Carl Bernstein (Credit: public domain)

Reporter Carl Bernstein, best known for his reporting on the Watergate scandal, comments on the FBI’s surprise announcement that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being reopened. “We don’t know what this means yet except that it’s a real bombshell. And it is unthinkable that the director of the FBI [James Comey] would take this action lightly, that he would put this letter forth to the Congress of the United States saying there is more information out there about classified emails and call it to the attention of congress unless it was something requiring serious investigation.”

He also says, “Right now we’re all talking in a vacuum but I want to add here that in the last, oh, 36, 48 hours, there has been an undercurrent of kind of speculative discussion among some national security people that something might surface in the next few days about emails, and I think the expectation in this chatter — and I took it as just chatter but informed chatter, to some extent — was that it would relate to another round of WikiLeaks emails, which our Justice Department people seem to be saying is not the case, but there has been some noise in the national security community the last day or two of this kind of possibility of some kind of revelation.” (Real Clear Politics, 10/28/2016)

October 28, 2016: Clinton encourages Comey to release all the information the FBI has that led him to reopen the Clinton email investigation.

Clinton holds an unscheduled news conference to talk about FBI inquiries on October 28, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press)

Clinton holds an unscheduled press conference to talk about FBI inquiries on October 28, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press)

Clinton reacts to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin. Clinton says, “We are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has. Let’s get it out.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016) She adds, “We don’t know the facts, which is why we are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has.” (Politico, 10/29/2016)

She also says, “We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election of our lifetimes. Voting is already underway in our country. So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. We’ve heard these rumors. We don’t know what to believe. That is why it is incumbent on the FBI to tell us what they are talking about. Because right now your guess is as good mine, and I don’t think that is good enough.” (Politico, 10/28/2016)

The call for more information is bipartisan. For instance, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence also urges the FBI to “immediately release all the emails pertinent to their investigation.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

October 29, 2016: Clinton’s campaign intensifies its criticism of Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation.

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress revealing that the Clinton email investigation was being at least partially reopened, due to newly discovered emails. This was immediately leaked to the general public.

One day later, Clinton comments, “It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election. In fact, it’s not just strange. It’s unprecedented. And it is deeply troubling.”

Robby Mook (left) and John Podesta at Clinton campaign Brooklyn, NY office. (Credit: Brooks Kraft / Politico.)

Robby Mook (left) and John Podesta at Clinton campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. (Credit: Brooks Kraft / Politico.)

Her campaign chair John Podesta says, “Twenty-four hours after that letter was sent, we have no explanation why. No-one can separate what is true or is not because Comey has not been forthcoming with the facts.” He suggests that “by providing selective information, [Comey] has allowed partisans to distort and exaggerate to inflict maximum political damage.” He declines to say whether Comey should be retained as FBI director if Clinton wins.

Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook says that Comey “owes the public the full story or else he shouldn’t have cracked open this door in the first place.”

By contrast, Republican National Committee (RNC) spokesperson Michael Short says, “The Clinton campaign was happy to praise Director Comey when it was politically convenient, but now that the FBI has found thousands of new emails pertinent to their investigation, they’re attacking him and mischaracterizing his letter to Congress.” (Bloomberg News, 10/29/2016)

October 29, 2016: The FBI does have a Clinton Foundation investigation, and Huma Abedin’s newly discovered emails could be useful to it.

Tom Fuentes (Credit: CNN)

Tom Fuentes (Credit: CNN)

Tom Fuentes is a former assistant FBI director at the FBI and a CNN analyst. He says, “The FBI has an intensive investigation, ongoing, into the Clinton Foundation. … [Clinton aide] Huma Abedin and her role in the foundation, and possible allegations concerning the activities of the secretary of state [Clinton] in the nature of the foundation, and possible pay to play – that’s still being looked at. Now you have her emails on a computer where the FBI already has a separate case going for Anthony Weiner’s alleged activities with a minor girl on that case. So, in a sense, it’s almost turned into a one-stop shopping for the FBI as they could have implications affecting three separate investigations on one computer.”

He adds that “Her emails are not just related to the email Clinton [investigation]. That part’s being reopened. The Clinton Foundation case didn’t need to be reopened, it’s never been closed. That’s on-going.”

When asked what his source for this is, he says, “Senior officials at the FBI, several of them, in and out of the bureau.”

In August 2016, CNN reported that there was no FBI Clinton Foundation investigation. But just one day after Fuentes’ comments, both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post will confirm the claims made by Fuentes. (CNN, 10/29/2016)

October 29, 2016—November 1, 2016: It is said there is “no chance” the FBI will be able to finish reviewing newly discovered emails before the US presidential election.

Anthony Weiner, texting in a park. (Credit: Daily Mail)

Anthony Weiner, texting in a park. (Credit: Daily Mail)

One day after FBI Director James Comey told Congress that he is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation after more emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin were found, the New York Times reports that “Law enforcement officials have begun the process to get court authority to read the emails.” This is according to unnamed US government officials. FBI agents involved in the illicit texting case of Abedin’s husband Anthony Weiner found the emails and can read them, but the agents involved in renewed Clinton email investigation still cannot.

Some reports indicate there are tens of thousands of emails to be reviewed. As a result, “How soon they will get that [legal permission] is unclear, but there is no chance that the review will be completed before Election Day, several [unnamed] law enforcement officials said.” The 2016 US presidential election is only ten days away. (The New York Times, 10/29/2016)

One day later, USA Today reports, “Though the volume of emails is substantial… authorities have not completely ruled out the possibility of completing the review by Election Day.” (USA Today, 10/30/2016)

But one day after that, Politico reports, “[I]t seems impossible that a full analysis will be completed by Election Day… because if potentially classified messages that haven’t been found before are located, they will have to be farmed out to various intelligence agencies for classification review. That interagency process often takes months.” (Politico, 10/31/2016)

October 29, 2016: Former Democrat and Republican number two Justice Department officials criticize Comey’s announcement.

Jamie Gorelick (left) Larry Thompson (right) (Credit: public domain)

Jamie Gorelick (left) Larry Thompson (right) (Credit: public domain)

Jamie Gorelick was deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton and is supporting Hillary Clinton for president. Larry Thompson held the same position under President George W. Bush and is has criticized Republican nominee Donald Trump. Deputy attorney general is the second highest position in the Justice Department. Together, they write an editorial in the Washington Post with the title: “James Comey is damaging our democracy.”

They are upset at FBI Director Comey for violating the Justice Department tradition not to make any moves that could have a political effect in the 60 day period before an election, with his October 28, 2016 announcement. (The FBI is part of the department.)

Their editorial concludes, “As it stands, we now have real-time, raw-take transparency taken to its illogical limit, a kind of reality TV of federal criminal investigation. Perhaps worst of all, it is happening on the eve of a presidential election. It is antithetical to the interests of justice, putting a thumb on the scale of this election and damaging our democracy.” (The Washington Post, 10/29/2016)

October 29, 2016: Both Republican and Democratic senators want more information from the FBI about the reopening of the Clinton email investigation.

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to eight Congressional committees, revealing that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being at least partially reopened due to the discovery of potentially relevant new evidence. But his letter is only three paragraphs long and is very vague. Subsequent media reports say the evidence is newly discovered emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

Senators who sign the letter are from left to right

Democratic Senators who wrote to Lynch and Comey are from left to right, Patrick Leahy, Thomas Carper, Dianne Feinstein, and Benjamin Cardin. (Credit: public domain)

The next day, four Democratic senators – Patrick Leahy, Thomas Carper, Dianne Feinstein, and Benjamin Cardin – write a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Comey, asking for more information. They want to know, by October 31, 2016, more details of the investigative steps being taken, the number of emails involved, how many of the emails are duplicates of those already known.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, writes a similar letter to Comey. “In line with your commitment to be transparent with Congress and the public, I respectfully request that the FBI provide as much information as possible about these new developments without harming the integrity of its ongoing investigation.” (The Washington Post, 10/29/2016)

October 29, 2016: A former Justice Department official claims that Comey’s “self-righteousness” has caused him to ignore the wishes of his superiors.

Matt Miller (Credit: Twitter)

Matt Miller served as Justice Department spokesperson when Eric Holder was attorney general. He says it is “stunning” that FBI Director James Comey decided to inform Congress about the reopening of the Clinton email investigation just 11 days before the US presidential election despite the opposition of Justice Department leadership.

Miller adds, “[James] Comey forgets that he works for the attorney general. … I think he has a lot of regard for his own integrity. And he lets that regard cross lines into self-righteousness. He has come to believe that his own ethics are so superior to anyone else’s that his judgment can replace existing rules and regulations. That is a dangerous belief for an FBI director to have.” (The Washington Post, 10/29/2016)

Miller also comments on Twitter that Comey’s July 5, 2016press conference was the original sin, and it begat the rest.”  (Politico, 10/28/2016)

October 30, 2016: WikiLeaks promises a new phase of releases related to the US presidential election.

A tweet by Wikileaks introducing Phase 3. (Credit: Wikileaks / Twitter)

A tweet by Wikileaks introducing Phase 3. (Credit: Wikileaks / Twitter)

Wikileaks announces on Twitter that “We commence phase 3 of our US election coverage next week.” This comes only nine days before the US presidential election.

There are no further details or clues regarding what “phase 3” will be. Presumably, the first phase was the posting of 20,00 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails in July 2016, and the second phase was the posting of thousands of emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta starting in early October 2016, which is still continuing. (The Hill, 10/30/2016)

October 30, 2016: Podesta claims that Huma Abedin has been fully cooperative and she doesn’t know any more than media reports.

On October 11, 2016, Podesta and Abedin confer on the Clinton campaign plane, shortly after Wikileaks begins releasing Podesta's emails. (Reuters)

On October 11, 2016, John Podesta and Huma Abedin confer on the Clinton campaign plane, shortly after Wikileaks begins to release his emails. (Credit: Reuters)

Clinton campaign chair John Podesta is interviewed on CNN by journalist Jake Tapper about the revelation that the FBI has reopened their Clinton email investigation due to new emails involving Clinton aide Huma Abedin found on the computer of her husband Anthony Weiner.

Tapper asks, “Have you asked Huma Abedin why she did not turn over this computer that is now being reviewed by the FBI?”

Podesta avoids saying if he’s recently talked to Abedin, and comments, “Look, I think Huma’s been completely cooperative with the authorities, and they have recognized that. She’s worked with her attorneys to turn over relevant material. But we don’t know what this is all about, really. So it’s very hard…”

Tapper points out, “But, John, she hasn’t been completely cooperative if she didn’t turn over every device that had State Department emails on them, and this one computer did.”

Podesta replies, “I think it’s clear that she complied to the best of her ability turned everything over that she had in her possession. I don’t know anything more than the speculation that’s running wild in the press now about what this is about.”

Podesta also claims, “I don’t think she knows anything more than what we have seen in the press to date.” (Real Clear Politics, 10/30/2016)

October 30, 2016: A former assistant FBI director criticizes the Clintons, the Clinton Foundation, and the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.

James Kallstrom (Credit: Fox News)

James Kallstrom (Credit: Fox News)

Former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom says in an interview, “The Clintons, that’s a crime family, basically. It’s like organized crime. I mean, the Clinton Foundation is a cesspool.”

He also criticizes the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. “The problem here is this investigation was never a real investigation. That’s the problem. They never had a grand jury empaneled, and the reason they never had a grand jury empaneled, I’m sure, is [Attorney General] Loretta Lynch would not go along with that. … The agents are furious with what’s going on, I know that for a fact.”

He also says that he is supporting Republican nominee Donald Trump for president, and calls Clinton a “pathological liar.”

Kallstrom is best known for leading the investigation into the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in the late 1990s. (The Hill, 10/30/2016)

Since July 2016, he has occasionally appeared on Fox News and claimed to be in contact with an increasing number of FBI agents upset with the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.

October 30, 2016: The FBI obtains a warrant for Huma Abedin’s recently discovered emails and immediately begins analyzing them.

The cover of the New York Post on October 29, 2016. (Credit: New York Post)

The cover of the New York Post on October 29, 2016. (Credit: New York Post)

When FBI Director James Comey informed Congress on October 28, 2016 that the Clinton email investigation was at least partially reopening due to newly discovered evidence, the agents who had been working on the investigation didn’t have the legal clearance to see the evidence. Possibly previously unknown emails sent to and from Clinton aide Huma Abedin were found on a computer belonging to her husband Anthony Weiner, due to an FBI investigation into his alleged sexual texting to an underaged girl.
Immediately after Comey sends the letter to Congress, the FBI and the Justice Department begin working on getting a search warrant from a judge so the FBI agents from the Clinton email investigation can read the emails. Two days later, on October 30, 2016, the warrant is obtained.

The FBI immediately begins working to analyze the emails and learn as much as possible about them before the US presidential election on November 8, 2016, little more than a week away. One unnamed federal law enforcement official says, “The process has begun.”

The New York Times reports that although “agents had discovered hundreds of thousands of Ms. Abedin’s emails on her husband’s computer [out of an estimated 650,000 emails], but investigators expected to seize only a portion of the total. Agents will have probable cause to search only the messages related to the Clinton investigation. Some of Ms. Abedin’s emails passed through Mrs. Clinton’s private server, officials said, which means there is a high likelihood that the FBI has already read them.”

It is not clear what the scope of the search warrant is, for instance, if it only covers emails from the time Clinton was secretary of state, or if it includes emails from the years afterwards, which might show evidence of a cover-up.

The Times also reports that “senior Justice Department officials said they would make all resources available to conduct the investigation as quickly as possible, saying Mr. Comey’s letter — just days before the election — gave the matter an unprecedented urgency.” (The New York Times, 10/31/2016)

October 30, 2016: 650,000 emails have allegedly been recently discovered by the FBI, many belonging to Huma Abedin, though many could be duplicates or unrelated.

Abedin and Weiner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala in May, 2016. (Credit: Reuters)

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced at least a partial reopening of the Clinton email investigation due to newly discovered evidence, but initial media accounts conflicted over what exactly was found. On this day, the Wall Street Journal reports: “Investigators found 650,000 emails on a laptop that they believe was used by former [Representative] Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife Huma Abedin, a close Clinton aide, and underlying metadata suggests thousands of those messages could have been sent to or from the private server that Mrs. Clinton used while she was secretary of state, according to people familiar with the matter.”

The Journal claims that although the FBI has received a search warrant since Comey’s announcement so the agents involved with the FBI’s Clinton email investigation can look at the newly discovered emails, “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; how many are duplicates of emails already reviewed by the FBI; and whether they include either classified information or important new evidence in the Clinton email probe.”

The emails “stretched back years,” and were found a computer laptop previously unknown by the Clinton email investigation. “Many of the 650,000 emails” are from Abedin’s email accounts, according to anonymous sources. Metadata shows that “many messages, apparently in the thousands,” were either sent to or from Clinton’s private email server. (Both Abedin and Clinton had email accounts hosted on the server.)

The Journal also depicts a long-standing dispute between the FBI, wanting to aggressively pursue leads, and the Justice Department, which often fails to give the FBI the legal approval to do so. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

October 30, 2016: The Wall Street Journal confirms there is an on-going FBI Clinton Foundation investigation, but the Justice Department hasn’t given it investigative powers.

Little Rock FBI Field Office (Credit: public domain)

Little Rock FBI Field Office (Credit: public domain)

In January 2016, Fox News reported that the FBI had an on-going investigation into the Clinton Foundation, but this generally wasn’t reported or discussed in other media outlets. In August 2016, the Daily Caller reported on the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, but this also wasn’t generally reported otherwise. For instance, a CNN story that same month asserted the investigation didn’t exist.

On this day, the Wall Street Journal confirms there is an on-going FBI Clinton Foundation investigation, and provides many new details about it. The investigation began some time before October 2015. By February 2016, four FBI field offices were collecting information about the foundation to see if there is evidence of financial crimes or influence-peddling:

  • The Los Angeles office developed an interest in the Clinton Foundation from an unrelated public-corruption case and has issued some subpoenas for bank records related to the foundation.
  • The Washington, DC, office is investigating financial relationships involving Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), who has been a Clinton Foundation board member.
  • The New York office has done the most work regarding the foundation.
  • The Little Rock, Arkansas, office has had some role, probably due to the Clintons’ ties in Arkansas, where Bill Clinton was governor.
The Jacob K. Javits Federal Building is home to the FBI field agents in New York, New York. (Credit: public domain)

FBI Field Office in New York, New York. (Credit: public domain)

In mid-July 2016, the New York office took charge of the investigation, with the Little Rock office providing assistance.

However, the Journal also reports that senior Justice Department officials have “repeatedly voiced skepticism of the strength of the evidence in [the FBI’s foundation investigation], sought to condense what was at times a sprawling cross-country effort, and, according to some people familiar with the matter, told agents to limit their pursuit of the case.”

Additionally, “Some investigators grew frustrated, viewing FBI leadership as uninterested in probing the charity, these people said. Others involved disagreed sharply, defending FBI bosses and saying [FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe in particular was caught between an increasingly acrimonious fight for control between the Justice Department and FBI agents pursuing the Clinton Foundation case.”

In February 2016, FBI agents presented their evidence on the foundation to senior Justice Department officials. But those officials decided not to give the investigation the legal backing to convene a grand jury, which means investigators don’t have subpoena or search warrants power. However, the investigators have continued without that power, apparently collecting much of their evidence from publicly available information.

This situation has apparently continued ever since, with the investigation continuing but hobbled due to the lack of the legal powers given by a grand jury. According to the Journal paraphrasing an unnamed official, “the [New York] FBI office [is] eager to pour more resources into [the] case and Justice Department prosecutors [don’t] think much of the case…” (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

FBI Miami Field Office (Credit: public domain)

FBI Miami Field Office (Credit: public domain)

Also on October 30, 2016, the Daily Caller will allege there is a fifth FBI field office – the Miami, Florida office – involved in the investigation.

Additionally, later on the same day, the Clinton Foundation denies knowledge of any government investigation targeting them.

However, the Washington Post confirms the Wall Street Journal’s claims. The Post emphasizes that the investigation has been blocked by the Justice Department’s public integrity section prosecutors, who are not politically appointed. (The Washington Post, 10/30/2016)

October 30, 2016: Former Attorney General Eric Holder says that Comey made “a serious mistake.”

Eric Holder (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Eric Holder (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Eric Holder, US attorney general from 2009 to 2015, writes an editorial in the Washington Post with the title: “James Comey is a good man, but he made a serious mistake.”

He writes, “I am deeply concerned about FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision to write a vague letter to Congress about emails potentially connected to a matter of public, and political, interest. That decision was incorrect. It violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition. … Director Comey broke with these fundamental principles. I fear he has unintentionally and negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI. And he has allowed — again without improper motive — misinformation to be spread by partisans with less pure intentions.“

Holder continues, “This controversy has its roots in the director’s July [2016] decision to hold a news conference announcing his recommendation that the Justice Department bring no charges against Hillary Clinton.” He says, given that Attorney General Loretta Lynch recused herself from the case, instead of having Comey “publicly share his professional recommendation, as well as his personal opinions” about the case in a “a stunning breach of protocol,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates could have announced the final decision of the department, without Comey’s extensive public commentary.

Holder concludes, “I served with Jim Comey and I know him well. This is a very difficult piece for me to write. He is a man of integrity and honor. I respect him. But good men make mistakes. In this instance, he has committed a serious error with potentially severe implications.” (The Washington Post, 10/31/2016)

October 30, 2016: Former Attorney General Mukasey claims Comey is in a no-win situation due to his earlier failure to pursue a vigorous Clinton email investigation.

Michael Mukasey (Credit: The Associated Press)

Michael Mukasey (Credit: The Associated Press)

Michael Mukasey, the US attorney general from 2007 to 2009, writes an editorial in the Wall Street Journal with the title: “The FBI Director’s Dishonorable Choice.”

He suggests that FBI Director James Comey’s recent highly controversial reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation shortly before the 2016 US presidential election is due to earlier mistakes Comey made in the investigation.

“Recall that Mr. Comey’s authority extends only to supervising the gathering of facts to be presented to Justice Department lawyers for their confidential determination of whether those facts justify a federal prosecution. Nonetheless, in July [2016] he announced that ‘no reasonable prosecutor’ would seek to charge her with a crime, although Mrs. Clinton had classified information on a private non-secure server—at least a misdemeanor under one statute; and although she was ‘extremely careless’ in her handling of classified information such that it was exposed to hacking by hostile foreign nations—a felony under another statute; and apparently had caused the destruction of emails—a felony under two other statutes.”

He continues, “Those decisions were not his to make, nor were the reasons he offered for making them at all tenable: that prosecutions for anything but mishandling large amounts of classified information, accompanied by false statements to investigators, were unprecedented; and that criminal prosecutions for gross negligence were constitutionally suspect.”

He also points to immunity deals made with key suspects that even included destroying their computers after limited searches, and a failure to get to the bottom of computer technician Paul Combetta’s destruction of Clinton’s emails in March 2015, supposedly done entirely on his own for no clear motive. “Why would an FBI director, who at one time was an able and aggressive prosecutor, agree to such terms or accept such a fantastic story?”

He also claims that emails between President Obama and Clinton on her private server suggested that “if Mrs. Clinton was at criminal risk for communicating on her non-secure system, so was [Obama].” The FBI needs the cooperation of a grand jury, and only the legal authority of a grand jury would give the FBI subpoena power to conduct a real investigation. If Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to allow a grand jury, Comey “could have gone public with his request, and threatened to resign if it was not followed. … Instead, Mr. Comey acceded to the apparent wish of President Obama that no charges be brought.”

That lack of courage put Comey in his no-win situation when more evidence happened to come to light shortly before Election Day. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)