Posted: 1:18 pm Tuesday, December 20th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
A federal judge has made public a redacted copy of an FBI search warrant that roiled the 2016 campaign for President, showing that agents believed there was “probable cause” to believe that classified information might have been on a laptop that belonged to longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and her estranged husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).
In the search warrant from late October, the FBI said that a cursory review of emails on that laptop made agents believe that it could have contained “classified information which was produced by and is owned by the U.S. Government.”
The affidavit for the laptop search warrant showed agents were interested in “thousands of emails,” with the clear implication that those emails they may provide more evidence of classified material being sent by Clinton – and her aides – over Clinton’s controversial private email server.
“The Subject Laptop was never authorized for the storage or transmission of classified or national defense information,” the search warrant stated.
The feds had obtained the laptop during an unrelated investigation into Weiner, over allegations that he had sexted with a minor.
The feds did not go into any of those details, but made clear the scope of the investigation was not known to the public – and maybe even to Abedin.
Despite having “probable cause” to believe that they would find classified information from the State Department in those emails, which might reignite the Clinton email probe, the late focus on the Abedin emails changed nothing.
A week after this search warrant request was filed, FBI Director James Comey told Congress that nothing of note had been found, reaffirming the decision not to bring criminal charges against Clinton over using her private email server while Secretary of State.
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton,” Comey wrote.
The reaction from the Clinton campaign was one of frustration and outrage, aimed squarely at the FBI Director.
“This will be a lasting stain on the FBI, rivaling some of Hoover’s worst abuses and arguably bigger in terms of impact to the country,” said veteran Democratic strategist Matthew Miller.
“There was nothing in search warrant filing to controvert Comey’s statements from July and truly establish probable cause of a crime,” said Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon.
The unsealed filings regarding Huma's emails reveals Comey's intrusion on the election was as utterly unjustified as we suspected at time
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) December 20, 2016
In another tweet, Fallon said the search warrant showed the FBI rationale to press thrust the email story into the campaign at such a late date, was “flimsy.”
“Whenever Comey departs FBI, this episode will be in first graf of any assessment of his tenure,” Fallon said in a series of tweets, not masking his contempt for the FBI Director, as many in the Clinton campaign blame his late focus on the Abedin emails for Clinton’s defeat.
One note – while Fallon and others openly name Abedin, her name is nowhere to be found in the search warrant released today because of redactions to the document.
Maybe the oddest part about the search warrant, is that it seems to indicate that Abedin was not even aware of the underlying investigation against Weiner.
You can read the redacted search warrant here.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.