FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe

james-comey-testifies

Metadata found on the laptop used by former Rep. Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife Huma Abedin, a close Clinton aide, suggests there may be thousands of emails sent to or from the private server that Mrs. Clinton used while she was secretary of state.

Devlin Barrett reports: As federal agents prepare to scour roughly 650,000 emails to see how many relate to a prior probe of Hillary Clinton’s email use, the surprise disclosure that investigators were pursuing the potential new evidence lays bare building tensions inside the bureau and the Justice Department over how to investigate the Democratic presidential nominee.

“The FBI had searched the computer while looking for child pornography, people familiar with the matter said, but the warrant they used didn’t give them authority to search for matters related to Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement at the State Department. Mr. Weiner has denied sending explicit or indecent messages to the teenager.”

Metadata found on the laptop used by former Rep. Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife Huma Abedin, a close Clinton aide, suggests there may be thousands of emails sent to or from the private server that Mrs. Clinton used while she was secretary of state, according to people familiar with the matter. 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation; and whether they include either classified information or important new evidence in the Clinton email probe.

“In their initial review of the laptop, the metadata showed many messages, apparently in the thousands, that were either sent to or from the private email server at Mrs. Clinton’s home that had been the focus of so much investigative effort for the FBI. Senior FBI officials decided to let the Weiner investigators proceed with a closer examination of the metadata on the computer, and report back to them.”

The FBI has had to await a court order to begin reviewing the emails, because they were uncovered in an unrelated probe of Mr. Weiner.

The new investigative effort, disclosed by FBI Director James Comey on Friday, shows a bureau at times in sharp internal disagreement over matters related to the Clintons, and how to handle those matters fairly and carefully in the middle of a national election campaign. Even as the previous probe of Mrs. Clinton’s email use wound down in July, internal disagreements within the bureau and the Justice Department surrounding the Clintons’ family philanthropy heated up, according to people familiar with the matter.

The latest development began in early October when New York-based FBI officials notified Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s second-in-command, that while investigating Mr. Weiner for possibly sending sexually charged messages to a minor, they had recovered a laptop with 650,000 emails. Many, they said, were from the accounts of Ms. Abedin, according to people familiar with the matter.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Those emails stretched back years, these people said, and were on a laptop that hadn’t previously come up in the Clinton email probe. Ms. Abedin said in late August that the couple were separating.

The FBI had searched the computer while looking for child pornography, people familiar with the matter said, but the warrant they used didn’t give them authority to search for matters related to Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement at the State Department. Mr. Weiner has denied sending explicit or indecent messages to the teenager.

weiner-collage2

“At a meeting early last week of senior Justice Department and FBI officials, a member of the department’s senior national-security staff asked for an update on the Weiner laptop, the people familiar with the matter said. At that point, officials realized that no one had acted to obtain a warrant, these people said.”

In their initial review of the laptop, the metadata showed many messages, apparently in the thousands, that were either sent to or from the private email server at Mrs. Clinton’s home that had been the focus of so much investigative effort for the FBI. Senior FBI officials decided to let the Weiner investigators proceed with a closer examination of the metadata on the computer, and report back to them.

At a meeting early last week of senior Justice Department and FBI officials, a member of the department’s senior national-security staff asked for an update on the Weiner laptop, the people familiar with the matter said. At that point, officials realized that no one had acted to obtain a warrant, these people said.

Mr. McCabe then instructed the email investigators to talk to the Weiner investigators and see whether the laptop’s contents could be relevant to the Clinton email probe, these people said. After the investigators spoke, the agents agreed it was potentially relevant.

Mr. Comey was given an update, decided to go forward with the case and notified Congress on Friday, with explosive results. Senior Justice Department officials had warned Mr. Comey that telling Congress would violate policies against overt actions that could affect an election, and some within the FBI have been unhappy at Mr. Comey’s repeated public statements on the probe, going back to his press conference on the subject in July.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The back-and-forth reflects how the bureau is probing several matters related, directly or indirectly, to Mrs. Clinton and her inner circle.

New details show that senior law-enforcement officials repeatedly voiced skepticism of the strength of the evidence in the bureau’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation, 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.

New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin attended a news conference in New York in 2013. Mr. Weiner had attempted to revive his career with a bid for New York City mayor, but that effort was doomed after a website published photos that he had evidently sent to another woman. Photo: eric thayer/Reuters

That led to frustrations among some investigators, who viewed FBI leadership as uninterested in probing the charity, these people said. Others involved disagreed sharply, defending FBI bosses and saying Mr. McCabe in particular was caught between an increasingly acrimonious fight for control between the Justice Department and FBI agents pursuing the Clinton Foundation case.

It isn’t unusual for field agents to favor a more aggressive approach than supervisors and prosecutors think is merited. But the internal debates…..(read more)

Source: WSJ

devlin.barrett@wsj.com


One Comment on “FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.