October 31, 2016: Huma Abedin has no idea how her emails got on her husband’s computer, according to her lawyer.

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced in a letter that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being at least partially reopened. Media reports quickly indicate this is due to 650,000 emails found on a computer, with some of them belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

A blurry photo taken of Huma Abedin inside her New York City home on October 29, 2016. (Credit: Jae Donnelly / The Daily Caller)

Since Comey’s letter was made public, Abedin has kept out of sight and hasn’t made any public comments. But on this day, Karen Dunn, a lawyer for Abedin, releases a statement. She claims that while some media reports claim the  computer was shared by Abedin and her husband Anthony Weiner (who has recently separated from her), it belonged solely to Weiner.

Additionally, Dunn says that Abedin “only learned for the first time on [October 28, 2016], from press reports, of the possibility that a laptop belonging to Mr. Weiner could contain emails of hers. While the FBI has not contacted us about this, Ms. Abedin will continue to be, as she always has been, forthcoming and cooperative.” She adds that Abedin has always been fully cooperative about any government inquiry into her emails.

Politico reports that Abedin has privately told colleagues she was taken aback to hear that the FBI found the emails. Furthermore, an unnamed “source close to the investigation” asserts that “no one asked” Abedin for consent to look at the emails, and the FBI has gotten a warrant from a judge instead. (Politico, 10/31/2016)

Clinton campaign manager John Podesta says of Abedin, “of course [the Clinton campaign] stands behind her.” He also says that “As far as we know everything that we had” belonging to Clinton and her top aides was turned over and reviewed by the time Comey announced he would not recommend any indictments in July 2016.
(Bloomberg News, 10/29/2016)

October 31, 2016: FBI investigators believe some newly discovered Huma Abedin emails were deleted from Clinton’s private server before the FBI took possession of it.

Three days after FBI Director James Comey made his surprise announcement that the FBI is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation due to the discovery of emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin, CNN reports that FBI agents still don’t know what is in the emails. However, it has been reported that at least some of the email metadata has been examined, and “Investigators believe it’s likely the newly recovered trove will include emails that were deleted from the Clinton server before the FBI took possession of it as part of that earlier investigation.”

The FBI took possession of one version of the server in August 2015 and a newer version of the server in October 2015.

Also, “investigators saw enough of the emails to determine that they appeared pertinent to the previously completed [Clinton email] investigation and that they may be emails not previously reviewed. [But] because they didn’t have a warrant specific to Abedin’s emails, [they] weren’t able to further examine them.”

However, “FBI officials don’t yet know how many of the emails are duplicates of emails they already have reviewed as part of the Clinton email server investigation and whether any of them may contain classified information.” (CNN, 10/31/2016)

October 31, 2016: FBI Director Comey may be facing a “rebellion” of rank and file FBI agents.

Politico speculates that FBI Director James Comey may have reopened the FBI’s Clinton email investigation on October 28, 2016 at least in part as a response to FBI agents who have been critical of how the investigation was handled. “Comey is also facing dissent from his traditionally conservative rank-and-file agents over the decision in July [2016] not to recommend charges in the Clinton email case. It’s unclear whether that played any role in his decision to essentially announce last week’s development.”

Emily Pierce (Credit: public domain)

Emily Pierce (Credit: public domain)

An unnamed “former FBI top official who has worked on similar investigations” says, “The stuff about a rebellion going on inside the [FBI] is absolutely true, but that’s not going to influence his decision. He loves his troops, but it’s not a fair judgment that that’s why he did it.” (Politico, 10/31/2016)

Former Justice Department spokesperson Emily Pierce says that Comey has “come under a lot of criticism from his own people for how he’s handled this. He’s trying to gain back some of their respect. … His ability to do what he does largely depends on the respect within his own ranks. He often does things because he’s trying to prove his bona fides to his rank and file. I think that’s part of it.” (Politico, 10/28/2016)

Between October 6 and 17, 2016, the New York Post, Fox News, and the Daily Caller reported on FBI agents, usually unnamed, who are upset with Comey and the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.

October 31, 2016: The FBI begins analyzing Huma Abedin’s newly discovered emails.

Abedin crying after learning the FBI has re-opened the Clinton email investigation. (Credit: public domain)

Abedin’s reaction is captured after learning the FBI has re-opened the Clinton email investigation. (Credit: public domain)

On October 30, 2016, the FBI obtained a search warrant, allowing its agents who had taken part in the FBI’s Clinton email investigation to have access to hundreds of thousands of emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. According to the New York Times, by the next day, the FBI begins using a special computer program that can help FBI analysts determine whether the emails contain classified information.

Clinton turned over about 30,000 of her emails to the State Department in December 2014, and deleted about another 31,000. The FBI recovered about 17,000 of those deleted emails during its investigation, which concluded in July 2016. The program should allow analysts to learn relatively quickly how many emails are previously known copies. Abedin also had an email account on Clinton’s server, and there are thousands of her emails not sent to or from Clinton, but their exact number is unknown.

Abedin is seen arriving at Clinton's campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, two days after the FBI reopened the Clinton email case. (Credit: Jae Donnelly / The Daily Mail)

Abedin is seen arriving at Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, two days after the FBI reopened the Clinton email case. (Credit: Jae Donnelly / The Daily Mail)

One unnamed “senior law enforcement official” says, “This is not a manpower issue. It’s an issue of getting the emails into a program that can allow agents to look at them.”

The FBI is under intense pressure to complete its review before the US presidential election on November 8, 2016, just over one week away. However, if previously unknown emails are discovered, it could take weeks or months for various government departments to confer and agree upon their classification status.

If more classified emails are found, that likely will not cause new legal difficulties for Clinton or Abedin, because many such emails already were found, but FBI Director James Comey said that he wouldn’t recommend any indictments without evidence of criminal intent.

The Times comments that “What could cause problems for Ms. Abedin — and by extension Mrs. Clinton — is if the FBI finds evidence that anyone tried to conceal these new emails from investigators. Ms. Abedin has said she turned over all her emails to the FBI months ago and does not know how emails ended up” on the computer owned by her estranged husband Anthony Weiner.
(The New York Times, 10/31/2016)

October 31, 2016: A senator wants to know if the FBI ever asked for subpoena power in the Clinton email investigation, and if not, why not.

Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Press / Getty Images)

Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Press / Getty Images)

Following the October 28, 2016 revelation that FBI Director James Comey has at least partially reopened the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sends him a letter with a series of questions.

He points that in May 2016, “I wrote to you expressing concern about the appearance that political appointees at the Justice Department might be withholding approval for the FBI to seek search warrants and grand jury subpoenas. These standard investigative tools are usually approved in criminal investigations of this scope and importance. However, it remains unclear to this day whether the FBI requested the use of a grand jury in the Clinton email investigation to compel documents and testimony, and if so, whether the [Justice Department] denied that request. These concerns are only magnified by these latest developments [regarding the reopening of the investigation].”

He adds, “If the FBI is denied the ability to gather evidence through compulsory means, Secretary Clinton and her aides have enormous leverage to negotiate extraordinary concessions in exchange for voluntary cooperation. It is critical for the public to know whether the FBI has requested from the Justice Department vital investigative tools such as grand jury subpoenas and search warrants and whether it has been denied access to them.” (Politico, 11/1/2016) (US Congress, 10/31/2016)

Two days later, it will be reported that the FBI never asked the Justice Department for the grand jury legal backing needed for subpoena power, but this has not been officially confirmed.

On September 28, 2016, Comey hinted that he preferred making immunity deals with key witnesses over using subpoena power in order to bring the investigation to a faster conclusion.

 

October 31, 2016: The supervisor of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is revealed.

Michael Steinbach (Credit: public domain)

Michael Steinbach (Credit: public domain)

It is reported that Michael Steinbach recently spoke at a meeting of the Washington, DC, chapter of the Society of Former FBI Agents. Steinbach is the FBI’s executive assistant director in charge of national security investigations.

According to one former FBI agent who attended the meeting, Steinbach said that he supervised the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, though FBI Director James Comey made the final decision on whether to recommend an indictment or not. It is unclear if Steinbach was the sole supervisor of the investigation or if there were others of his similar authority.

He claims that about 25 FBI employees worked on the investigation. He says that all of them agreed with Comey’s decision not to recommend an indictment. Furthermore, contrary to media reports, there has been no rebellion of FBI agents due to dissatisfaction with the investigation. He staunchly supports everything Comey has done, and finds no fault with any aspect of the investigation. (The Washington Times, 10/31/2016)

Ironically, the same day the article is published in which Steinbach claims there is no FBI rebellion, an unnamed “former FBI top official” is quoted in another article, saying, “The stuff about a rebellion going on inside the [FBI] is absolutely true…” (Politico, 10/31/2016)

October 31, 2016: Loretta Lynch and James Comey have a private meeting, and agree to work together to get faster answers.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey meet in person to discuss Comey’s announcement on October 28, 2016 that he is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation due newly discovered evidence. It has been reported that one day before his announcement, Lynch made clear that she disagreed, passing that message to him through intermediaries.

Lynch and Comey have a regular national security meeting at the FBI, and after the meeting ends, Lynch and Comey talk in private. (CBS News, 11/1/2016)

Peter Kadzik (Credit: CSpan)

Peter Kadzik (Credit: CSpan)

Later in the day, Justice Department legislative liaison Peter Kadzik tells Congress that the department will dedicate all necessary resources and work “as expeditiously as possible” to learn something about the new evidence, since Election Day is only eight days away.

Politico reports that “Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates are now seeking a kind of detente with [Comey] after the extraordinary rift between Comey and the Justice Department” regarding his decision to ignore the Justice Department’s wishes for him not to send the letter.

One unnamed “top Justice official” says that Lynch and Yates “felt they needed to make clear that they disagreed with Comey’s decision. But no one is dragging their feet here. The Justice Department is committed to working with the FBI to move the case forward.” (Politico, 10/31/2016)

October 31, 2016: The New York Times’ editorial board heavily criticizes “James Comey’s Big Mistake.”

That is the title of the op-ed published four days after FBI Director Comey announced the at least partial reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. The editorial states, “Now, thanks to Mr. Comey’s breathtakingly rash and irresponsible decision, the Justice Department and FBI are scrambling to process hundreds of thousands of emails to determine whether there is anything relevant in them before [the US presidential election on November 8, 2016] — all as the country stands by in suspense. This is not how federal investigations are conducted. In claiming to stand outside politics, Mr. Comey has instead created the hottest political football of the 2016 election.

“And he clearly failed to consider the impact of the innuendo he unleashed just days before the election, seemingly more concerned with protecting himself from recrimination by critics in Congress and the FBI. … The Clinton campaign and its supporters are apoplectic. But top federal law enforcement officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations have been just as swift and fierce in their condemnation of Mr. Comey.

“In an election that has featured the obliteration of one long-accepted political or social norm after another, it is sadly fitting that one of the final and perhaps most consequential acts was to undermine the American people’s trust in the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.” (The New York Times, 10/31/2016)

October 31, 2016: The White House stays out of the controversy about Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email investigation.

Josh Earnest (Credit: The Associated Press)

Josh Earnest (Credit: The Associated Press)

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest says the Obama Administration “will neither defend nor criticize what [FBI] Director [James] Comey has decided to communicate to the public about this investigation.” He is referring to Comey’s October 28, 2016 letter informing Congress that the FBI is at least partially reopening its Clinton email investigation, just 11 days before the 2016 US presidential election. Earnest says the White House has no recommendations for Comey over what information to give to the public.

Additionally, President Obama “doesn’t believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election. The president doesn’t believe that he’s secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party. He’s in a tough spot.” (CBS News, 11/1/2016)

Earnest says the White House has no independent knowledge as to why Comey made the decision to inform Congress as he did. He adds that Obama believes Comey is a “man of integrity.”

Yet Earnest also says that government officials have powers which “are tempered by longstanding practice and norms that limit public discussion of facts that are collected in the context of those investigations. … The president believes that it’s important for those guidelines and norms to be followed.” (Reuters, 10/31/2016) (The New York Times, 10/31/2016)