What has made Friday's political fiasco - which started with the FBI's announcement it has reopened its probe into Hillary's emails - especially chaotic is that, at least officially, few official institutions have had access to the Abedin emails that are at the center of the new probe for various legal reasons as described below, and is the reason why the Clinton Campaign has been so forceful in demanding that the FBI provide additional information into what is contained among the "tens of thousands of emails" found on Anthony Weiner's notebook, which as the NYT reported was seized on October 3.
Federal authorities had seized four devices from Abedin and her estranged husband Weiner, including a laptop the former congressman used to send the sexual messages to the fifteen-year old girl. According to The New York Post, agents did not read the e-mails seized, because their warrant only covered Weiner’s messages.
This also means that FBI agents knew early this month about the new emails that the agency now says are "pertinent" to the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private server, but did not brief FBI Director James Comey until late last week. Comey was reportedly told about the new messages on Thursday, The Washington Post reported.
The FBI director said the team should "take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails." The Washington Post reported that it is not clear why the FBI agents waited to brief Comey after discovering in early October the emails in question on a computer it seized in connection with a separate investigation.
The Clinton campaign responded to the news with campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeting, “In other words: Comey officially does not know what he is talking about.”
In other words: Comey officially does not know what he is talking about. https://t.co/cfwjqfXgLy
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) October 30, 2016
It also explains why as CNN noted moments ago, Justice Department and FBI officials are working to secure approval that would allow the FBI to conduct a full search of Huma Abedin's newly discovered emails, sources. Government lawyers haven't yet approached Abedin's lawyers to seek an agreement to conduct the search. Sources earlier told CNN that those discussions had begun, but the law enforcement officials now say they have not.
According to CNN sources, government lawyers plan to seek a search warrant from a judge to conduct the search of the computer. But what makes the issue especially complicated, is that the computer is considered to belong to Anthony Weiner, her estranged husband, and the case may raise spousal privilege legal protections for Abedin. Government lawyers hope to secure the warrant to permit investigators to review the thousands of emails.
The new search warrant is needed because the existing authorization, covered by a subpoena, related only to the ongoing investigation of Weiner, who is accused of having sexually explicit communications with an underage girl.
As previously report, investigators from the FBI's New York field office who are conducting the Weiner investigation stumbled on the Abedin emails while they were reviewing emails and other communications on the computer, which was considered to belong to Weiner. They stopped their work and called in the team of investigators from FBI headquarters who conducted the probe of Clinton's private email server. The investigators saw enough of the emails to determine that they appeared pertinent to the previously completed investigation and that they may be emails not previously reviewed.
And because they don't have a warrant specific to Abedin's emails, officials have not been able to further examine them. Justice Department and FBI officials view Abedin as cooperative with the investigation.
CNN adds, hopefully, that 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. 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.
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But where things get interesting, is that as Daily Caller noted today, while the DOJ has yet to allow the FBI access through a warrant to any of the newly discovered Huma Abedin emails, that may not mean other law enforcement agencies in communication with the FBI did not have access to the new material.
The DC speculates that the New York Police Department, along with the New York U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, led by Preet Bharara, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of North Carolina, may have all very well seen the emails in question when the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit first launched their own investigation into Weiner and his sexually explicit messaging to the teenage girl.
Furthermore, as reported earlier, Anthony Weiner is said to be cooperating with the FBI probe, and as Fox News Channel’s Brett Baier reported, no warrant was necessary for the FBI to search the laptop co-owned by him and Abedin, as Weiner has given permission to the agency to search the device.
I emailed that 2 sources say Weiner is cooperating w/ FBI- & co-owned laptop. Also NY FBI had info 4 a few weeks- pressure was building https://t.co/AHbQVtvQzg
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) October 30, 2016
Additionally, the U.S. Attorneys offices and local law enforcement have access to the FBI laboratory to conduct “scientific examinations of evidence for any federal, state, and/or local law enforcement organization in the United States.”
Ultimately, the question may be not what is in the emails, but who is creating the bottlenecks, and why, and also just how many emails will the FBI have to go pour through seeking potential criminality on Hillary's behalf before the election. On the other hand, as defenders of Hillary will allege...
Breaking: trove of Abedin emails found wks ago, law enforcement officials tell CNN, raising q's why info released only days before election
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) October 30, 2016
... why - if the Abedin emails were found weeks ago - did the FBI wait just days before the election before the information was released.