FBI knew about Weiner’s laptop emails weeks ago and delayed telling director Comey – as top Senate Democrat suggests he broke the law for telling congress about the investigation
The late October surprise currently plaguing Hillary Clinton’s campaign could have come at an earlier, less politically destructive time of the month, reports say.
The Washington Post reported that FBI officials knew in early October that emails from a computer belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin, could be connected to the Clinton email case, but didn’t inform the bureau’s director James Comey until Thursday.
Comey, in turn, informed members of Congress of the emails existence on Friday, igniting a political firestorm so strong it could change the course of the presidential election.
Before even knowing about this timeline, Democrats were angry at Comey’s admission, suggesting he was interfering with presidential politics too much.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, according to the Wall Street Journal, said that Comey may have violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from using their position to influence elections.
‘I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act,’ Reid was writing in a letter to Comey. ‘Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.’
Furthermore he accused Comey of sitting on ‘explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government.’
Additionally, four top Senate Democrats wrote a letter to Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch demanding that more information be made public, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Talking to CNN’s Jake Tapper this morning on ‘State of the Union,’ Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta expressed his disgust.
‘So, to throw this in the middle of the campaign 11 days out just seemed to break with precedent and be inappropriate at this stage,’ said Podesta. ‘If they’re not significant, they’re not significant,’ Podesta said of the emails.
‘So, he might have taken the first step of actually having looked at them before he did this in the middle of a presidential campaign so close to the voting,’ Podesta continued.
Tapper quarreled with Podesta over whether the emails had been read.
‘Do you know that, Jake? Do you know that?’ said the campaign chairman, whose own emails were hacked and have been made public each day by Wikileaks, another headache for the Clinton campaign. ‘We don’t know anything.’
What is known about the new cache of emails is that New York-based FBI officials recovered a laptop belonging to Weiner in early October holding 650,000 messages, according to the Wall Street Journal, many of which were from Abedin’s email account.
Officials were looking for child porn after DailyMail.com broke the story that Weiner, embroiled in a third sexting scandal, had exchanged lewd messages with a 15-year-old girl.
When performing this initial review of the laptop, the metadata showed that many of the messages, in the thousands according to the Wall Street Journal, were sent to or came from Clinton’s private email system, which was the focus of the original FBI investigation into the former secretary of state’s emails.
The Weiner investigators were given a green light to further examine the metadata on the computer and report back.
Then, at a meeting early last week between Justice Department and FBI officials, the Wall Street Journal found out that a senior member of the Justice Department’s national security team asked to be briefed on the current status of the Weiner laptop.
That’s when officials realized that nobody had gotten a warrant.
McCabe then brought together those who had investigated Clinton’s emails and those investigating Weiner to see if the contents of the laptop could be useful for those who worked on the original Clinton probe.
Comey was briefed on the matter, according to the Wall Street Journal, once the teams agreed that the Weiner emails were pertinent to the previous investigation, which had seemingly concluded in July when Comey briefed the press, telling reporters that the FBI couldn’t recommend charges to the Justice Department because no reasonable prosecutor would try to make a case against Clinton.
Riling up Republicans, Comey also tsk-tsked Clinton and her aides for being so careless with classified information, comments that Trump allies say reveal how the FBI director really felt about the case.
Trump and his supporters have long suggested that Attorney General Loretta Lynch was pressured by Bill Clinton to not go after his wife and thus pressured Comey to back off.
There’s no evidence to suggest that this is what actually happened.
Now, Republicans are saying that the FBI’s announcement that it’s looking into this new cache of emails is righting the previous wrong.
‘What the decision this week showed is even 11 days before an election, no one is above the law,’ Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence told John Dickerson this morning on ‘Face the Nation.’ ‘The FBI director has stepped forward, kept his word to the Congress and the American people and told us, “There’s more information. And an investigation is now reopened.”‘
On Sunday evening, NBC reported that the FBI now has a warrant to read the thousands of emails.