News & Politics

There Were 700K Emails on Weiner's Laptop that FBI Didn't Investigate

May 2, 2016 photo of Clinton aide Huma Abedin with husband Anthony Weiner, image via Shutterstock.

An extraordinary report by RealClearInvestigations reveals some startling facts that radically alter our understanding of a key event in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

When former Congressman Anthony Weiner — at the time, married to Hillary Clinton’s best friend Huma Abedin — was being investigated for “sexting” with a teenage girl, the FBI seized the laptop Weiner used for his crimes. Originally, the FBI claimed there were 300,000 emails on the device. As it turns out, there were almost 700,000 emails, most of them between Abedin and Clinton, including thousands of emails that Clinton claimed she had deleted because they were personal. There were also hundreds of emails containing sensitive, classified material that the FBI failed to review for national security reasons. For instance, there was “highly sensitive information dealing with Israel and the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas.”

It wasn’t just the massive number of emails. It’s what the FBI didn’t do with them that is the story.

The cast of characters is familiar. They include James Comey,  former FBI director, who blatantly lied to Congress about the investigation; Andrew McCabe, FBI deputy director, who apparently tried to bury the significance of the additional Weiner emails; Peter Strzok, supervising agent in the email investigation who dismissed the new evidence as not as important as Russian penetration of the U.S. election.

There were a few white hats in the investigation who tried vainly to alert their superiors to the new information found on Weiner’s laptop. A few anonymous sources in the Bureau told RCI investigators of the highly politicized atmosphere at the FBI regarding the investigation. But RCI used several public sources to tell this incredible story:

RealClearInvestigations pieced together the FBI’s handling of the massive new email discovery from the “Weiner laptop.” This months-long investigation included a review of federal court records and affidavits, cellphone text messages, and emails sent by key FBI personnel, along with internal bureau memos, reviews and meeting notes documented in government reports. Information also was gleaned through interviews with FBI agents and supervisors, prosecutors and other law enforcement officials, as well as congressional investigators and public-interest lawyers.

If the FBI “soft-pedaled” the original investigation of Clinton’s emails, as some critics have said, it out-and-out suppressed the follow-up probe related to the laptop, sources for this article said.

You should read the entire 8200 word report, but here are a few highlights:

Comey later told Congress that “thanks to the wizardry of our technology,” the FBI was able to eliminate the vast majority of messages as “duplicates” of emails they’d previously seen. Tireless agents, he claimed, then worked “night after night after night” to scrutinize the remaining material.

But virtually none of his account was true, a growing body of evidence reveals.

In fact, a technical glitch prevented FBI technicians from accurately comparing the new emails with the old emails. Only 3,077 of the 694,000 emails were directly reviewed for classified or incriminating information. Three FBI officials completed that work in a single 12-hour spurt the day before Comey again cleared Clinton of criminal charges.

“Most of the emails were never examined, even though they made up potentially 10 times the evidence” of what was reviewed in the original year-long case that Comey closed in July 2016, said a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation.

[…]

Even though the unique classified material was improperly stored and transmitted on an unsecured device, the FBI did not refer the matter to U.S. intelligence agencies to determine if national security had been compromised, as required under a federally mandated “damage assessment” directive.

The newly discovered classified material “was never previously sent out to the relevant original classification authorities for security review,” the official, who spoke to RealClearInvestigations on the condition of anonymity, said.

[…]

Far from investigating and clearing Abedin and Weiner, the FBI did not interview them, according to other FBI sources who say Comey closed the case prematurely. The machine was not authorized for classified material, and Weiner did not have classified security clearance to receive such information, which he did on at least two occasions through his Yahoo! email account – which he also used to email snapshots of his penis.

[…]

The agents had reason to believe that classified information resided on the laptop, since investigators had already established that emails containing classified information were transmitted through multiple email accounts used by Abedin, including her clintonemail.com and Yahoo! accounts. Moreover, the preliminary count of Clinton-related emails found on the laptop in late September 2016 — three months after Comey closed his case — dwarfed the total of some 60,000 originally reported by Clinton.

The agent described the discovery as an “oh-shit moment.”

“Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing?” he asked another case agent.

They agreed that the information needed “to get reported up the chain” immediately.

[…]

By Oct. 4, the Weiner case agent had finished processing the laptop, and reported that he found at least 675,000 emails potentially relevant to the Midyear case (in fact, the final count was 694,000). “Based on the number of emails, we could have every email that Huma and Hillary ever sent each other,” the agent remarked  to colleagues. It appeared this was the mother lode of missing Clinton emails. But Strzok remained uninterested. “This isn’t a ticking terrorist bomb,” he was quoted as saying in the recently issued inspector general’s report. Besides, he had bigger concerns, such as, “You know, is the government of Russia trying to get somebody elected here in the United States?”

[…]

Comey repeatedly lied to Congress about the investigation and McCabe repeatedly lied to IG investigators looking into the email controversy.

The next day, Sept. 27, the official in charge of the FBI’s New York office, Bill Sweeney,  was alerted to the trove and confirmed “it was clearly her stuff.” Sweeney reported the find to Comey deputy Andrew McCabe and other headquarters officials on Sept. 28, and told Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz  that “everybody realized the significance of this.”

(McCabe told Horowitz he didn’t remember Sweeney briefing him about the Weiner laptop, but personal notes he took during the teleconference indicate he was briefed. Sweeney also updated McCabe in a direct call later that afternoon in which he noted there were potentially 347,000 relevant emails, and that the count was climbing. McCabe was fired earlier this year and referred to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., for possible criminal investigation into allegations he made false statements to federal agents working for Horowitz.)

McCabe, in turn, briefed Strzok – who had led the Clinton email probe – that afternoon, text messages show.

Comey was not on the conference call, but phone records show he and McCabe met privately that afternoon and spoke during a flurry of phone calls late that evening. McCabe said he could not recall what they discussed, while Comey told investigators that he did not hear about the emails until early October — and then quickly forgot about them. (“I kind of just put it out of my mind,” he said, because he claimed it did not “index” with him that Abedin was closely connected to Clinton. “I don’t know that I knew that [Weiner] was married to Huma Abedin at the time.”)

Historians 100 years from now will probably get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about this story. But RCI has performed a valuable public service by doing the scut work on this story that the New York Times, the Washington Post, and every other major media outlet in the nation refused to do. They have pieced together a story that gives the lie to constant FBI claims that their “professionalism” allows them to keep politics out of their investigation, that their investigation of Clinton’s and Weiner’s emails was complete, and that bias in favor of Hillary Clinton played no role in their deliberations.