March 9, 2012: A Justice Department memo clarifies a policy of avoiding interference in elections.

Eric Holder (Credit: public domain)

Eric Holder (Credit: public domain)

Eric Holder, the US attorney general from 2009 until 2015, writes a memo during the 2012 US presidential race outlining Justice Department policy on how to avoid interfering in elections. It states that department employees (which includes the FBI) “must be particularly sensitive to safeguarding the department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality, and nonpartisanship.” If an employee is “faced with a question regarding the timing of charges or overt investigative steps near the time of a primary or general election,” that person should contact the department’s public integrity section “for further guidance.”

The department has had such policies for decades, and they usually are restated every presidential election, but the memo adds clarity to them. (The Washington Post, 10/29/2016) (US Department of Justice, 3/9/2012)

This department policy will be tested in 2016, when the FBI reopens an investigation into Clinton’s emails just 11 days before Clinton is on the ballot for the US presidential election.

August 29, 2016: Huma Abedin initiates a divorce after her husband is caught in a sex scandal; this will have an impact on Clinton’s email controversy.

Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin at home with their son in 2013. (Credit: Elinor Carucci / NY Magazine)

Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin at home with their son in 2013. (Credit: Elinor Carucci / NY Magazine)

Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton, announces that she is separating from her husband Anthony Weiner, and is pursuing a divorce from him. This will later have an important impact on the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. Weiner was a Democratic Congressperson until 2011 when he resigned due to a sexting scandal – sending sexual texts to other women that were made public. Another sexting scandal involving him ended his 2013 campaign to be mayor of New York City. Abedin’s announcement comes one day after yet more new sexting by Weiner is made public, this time allegedly to a 15-year-old girl.  (The New York Times, 8/29/2016)

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey will announce that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation will be at least partially reopened due to thousands of Abedin’s emails found on a computer used by both Weiner and Abedin that was seized by the FBI as part of their unrelated investigation into Weiner’s sexting with the underaged girl.

August 29, 2016: Trump suggests it “is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised” by Clinton aide Huma Abedin sharing information with her disgraced husband.

Anthony Weiner (Credit: Getty Images)

Anthony Weiner (Credit: Getty Images)

On the day that top Clinton aide Huma Abedin announces she is pursuing a divorce from Anthony Weiner, after he was caught in yet another sex scandal, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump releases a statement on the matter: “Huma is making a very wise decision. I know Anthony Weiner well, and she will be far better off without him. I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information. Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this.” (Donaldjtrump.com, 8/29/2016)

Trump’s comments will be recalled in late October 2016, when the FBI at least partially reopens the FBI’s Clinton email investigation after thousands of Abedin’s emails are discovered on a computer shared by Abedin and Weiner, after the computer was seized by the FBI due to an investigation into Weiner’s sex scandal.

On October 29, 2016, Trump will say regarding his August 2016 comments, “Boy, did I call that correctly.” (Politico, 10/29/2016)

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)

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 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 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: 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: 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)

November 3, 2016: It is alleged Comey told Congress about reopening the FBI’s Clinton investigation at least partially due to fears of leaks from the FBI’s New York office.

Reuters reports that FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on October 28, 2016, revealing that the Clinton email investigation was being reopened, at least partially due to fear of leaks from within the FBI.

A look inside the New York field agents office located in the Federal Plaza in NYNY. (Credit: public domain)

A look inside the FBI New York field office at the Federal Plaza in New York City. (Credit: public domain)

The investigation is being reopened due to new evidence discovered in an unrelated FBI investigation into sexual texts Anthony Weiner allegedly sent to a minor. Weiner is a former New York Congressperson and the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

It is believed that the Weiner investigation is being conducted with the help of the FBI’s New York field office, which initially discovered the emails. Two unnamed law enforcement officials say that a faction of FBI agents in the New York office are believed to be hostile to Hillary Clinton, and have been known to leak information to the press.

These sources also say that the examination of new evidence – believed to be thousands of Abedin’s emails found on Weiner’s computer – is being conducted under very tight security at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. (Reuters, 11/3/2016)