[Swiftwater Gazette] Investigators found 650, 000 emails on a laptop
kroposki at att.net
Mon Oct 31 11:53:47 EDT 2016
Hillary’s33,000 emails might not be ‘missing’ after all
Readthis posting and wonder about the FBI
PartTwo - What they found on Laptop.
Thesurprise disclosure that agents from the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation are taking a new look at Hillary Clinton’s email uselays bare, just days before the election, tensions inside the bureauand the Justice Department over how to investigate the Democraticpresidential nominee.
Investigatorsfound 650,000 emails on a laptop that they believe was used by formerRep. Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife Huma Abedin, a closeClinton aide, and underlying metadata suggests thousands of thosemessages could have been sent to or from the private server that Mrs.Clinton used while she was secretary of state, according to peoplefamiliar with the matter.
Itwill take weeks, at a minimum, to determine whether those messagesare work-related from the time Ms. Abedin served with Mrs. Clinton atthe State Department; how many are duplicates of emails alreadyreviewed by the FBI; and whether they include either classifiedinformation or important new evidence in the Clinton email probe.
Thenew investigative effort, disclosed by FBI Director James Comey onFriday, shows a bureau at times in sharp internal disagreement overmatters related to the Clintons, and how to handle those mattersfairly and carefully in the middle of a national election campaign.Even as the probe of Mrs. Clinton’s email use wound down in July,internal disagreements within the bureau and the Justice Departmentsurrounding the Clintons’ family philanthropy heated up, accordingto people familiar with the matter.
Thelatest development began in early October when New York-based FBIofficials notified Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s second-in-command,that while investigating Mr. Weiner for possibly sending sexuallycharged messages to a teenage minor, they had recovered a laptop.Many of the 650,000 emails on the computer, they said, were from theaccounts of Ms. Abedin, according to people familiar with the matter.
Thoseemails stretched back years, these people said, and were on a laptopthat hadn’t previously come up in the Clinton email probe. Ms.Abedin said in late August that the couple were separating.
TheFBI had searched the computer while looking for child pornography,people familiar with the matter said, but the warrant they useddidn’t give them authority to search for matters related to Mrs.Clinton’s email arrangement at the State Department. Mr. Weiner hasdenied sending explicit or indecent messages to the minor.
Intheir initial review of the laptop, the metadata showed manymessages, apparently in the thousands, that were either sent to orfrom the private email server at Mrs. Clinton’s home that had beenthe focus of so much investigative effort for the FBI. Senior FBIofficials decided to let the Weiner investigators proceed with acloser examination of the metadata on the computer, and report backto them.
Ata meeting early last week of senior Justice Department and FBIofficials, a member of the department’s senior national-securitystaff asked for an update on the Weiner laptop, the people familiarwith the matter said. At that point, officials realized that no onehad acted to obtain a warrant, these people said.
Mr.McCabe then instructed the email investigators to talk to the Weinerinvestigators and see whether the laptop’s contents could berelevant to the Clinton email probe, these people said. After theinvestigators spoke, the agents agreed it was potentially relevant.
Mr.Comey was given an update, decided to go forward with the case andnotified Congress on Friday, with explosive results. Senior JusticeDepartment officials had warned the FBI that telling Congress wouldviolate policies against overt actions that could affect an election,and some within the FBI have been unhappy at Mr. Comey’s repeatedpublic statements on the probe, going back to his press conference onthe subject in July.
Theback-and-forth reflects how the bureau is probing several mattersrelated, directly or indirectly, to Mrs. Clinton and her innercircle.
Newdetails show that senior law-enforcement officials repeatedly voicedskepticism of the strength of the evidence in a bureau investigationof the Clinton Foundation, sought to condense what was at times asprawling cross-country effort, and, according to some peoplefamiliar with the matter, told agents to limit their pursuit of thecase. The probe of the foundation began more than a year ago todetermine whether financial crimes or influence peddling occurredrelated to the charity.
Someinvestigators grew frustrated, viewing FBI leadership as uninterestedin probing the charity, these people said. Others involved disagreedsharply, defending FBI bosses and saying Mr. McCabe in particular wascaught between an increasingly acrimonious fight for control betweenthe Justice Department and FBI agents pursuing the Clinton Foundationcase.
Itisn’t unusual for field agents to favor a more aggressive approachthan supervisors and prosecutors think is merited. But the internaldebates about the Clinton Foundation show the high stakes when suchdisagreements occur surrounding someone who is running for president.
TheWall Street Journal reported last week that Mr. McCabe’s wife, JillMcCabe, received $467,500 in campaign funds in late 2015 from thepolitical-action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, alongtime ally of the Clintons and, until he was elected governor inNovember 2013, a Clinton Foundation board member.
Mr.McAuliffe had supported Dr. McCabe in the hopes she and a handful ofother Democrats might help win a majority in the state Senate. Dr.McCabe lost her race last November, and Democrats failed to win theirmajority.
Aspokesman for the governor has said that “any insinuation that hissupport was tied to anything other than his desire to electcandidates who would help pass his agenda is ridiculous.”
Dr.McCabe told the Journal, “Once I decided to run, my husband had noformal role in my campaign other than to be” supportive.
InFebruary of this year, Mr. McCabe ascended from the No. 3 position atthe FBI to the deputy director post. When he assumed that role,officials say, he started overseeing the probe into Mrs. Clinton’suse of a private email server for government work when she wassecretary of state.
FBIofficials have said Mr. McCabe had no role in the Clinton email probeuntil he became deputy director, and by then his wife’s campaignwas over.
Butother Clinton-related investigations were under way within the FBI,and they have been the subject of internal debate for months,according to people familiar with the matter.
Earlythis year, four FBI field offices—New York, Los Angeles, Washingtonand Little Rock, Ark.—were collecting information about the ClintonFoundation to see if there was evidence of financial crimes orinfluence-peddling, according to people familiar with the matter.
LosAngeles agents had picked up information about the Clinton Foundationfrom an unrelated public-corruption case and had issued somesubpoenas for bank records related to the foundation, these peoplesaid.
TheWashington field office was probing financial relationships involvingMr. McAuliffe before he became a Clinton Foundation board member,these people said. Mr. McAuliffe has denied any wrongdoing, and hislawyer has said the probe is focused on whether he failed to registeras an agent of a foreign entity.
ClintonFoundation officials have long denied any wrongdoing, saying it is awell-run charity that has done immense good.
TheFBI field office in New York had done the most work on the ClintonFoundation case and received help from the FBI field office in LittleRock, the people familiar with the matter said.
InFebruary, FBI officials made a presentation to the JusticeDepartment, according to these people. By all accounts, the meetingdidn’t go well.
Somesaid that is because the FBI didn’t present compelling evidence tojustify more aggressive pursuit of the Clinton Foundation, and thatthe career anticorruption prosecutors in the room simply believed itwasn’t a very strong case. Others said that from the start, theJustice Department officials were stern, icy and dismissive of thecase.
“Thatwas one of the weirdest meetings I’ve ever been to,” oneparticipant told others afterward, according to people familiar withthe matter.
Anticorruptionprosecutors at the Justice Department told the FBI at the meetingthey wouldn’t authorize more aggressive investigative techniques,such as subpoenas, formal witness interviews, or grand-jury activity.But the FBI officials believed they were well within their authorityto pursue the leads and methods already under way, these people said.
Abouta week after Mr. Comey’s July announcement that he was recommendingagainst any prosecution in the Clinton email case, the FBI sought torefocus the Clinton Foundation probe, with Mr. McCabe deciding theFBI’s New York office would take the lead, with assistance fromLittle Rock.
DirectorJames Comey testified before the House Judiciary Committee inSeptember on a variety of subjects including the investigation intoformer U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email server.
TheWashington field office, FBI officials decided, would focus on aseparate matter involving Mr. McAuliffe. Mr. McCabe had decidedearlier in the spring that he would continue to recuse himself fromthat probe, given the governor’s contributions to his wife’sformer political campaign.
Withinthe FBI, the decision was viewed with skepticism by some, who feltthe probe would be stronger if the foundation and McAuliffe matterswere combined. Others, particularly Justice Department anticorruptionprosecutors, felt that both probes were weak, based largely onpublicly available information, and had found little that would meritexpanded investigative authority.
Accordingto a person familiar with the probes, on Aug. 12, a senior JusticeDepartment official called Mr. McCabe to voice his displeasure atfinding that New York FBI agents were still openly pursuing theClinton Foundation probe during the election season. Mr. McCabe saidagents still had the authority to pursue the issue as long as theydidn’t use overt methods requiring Justice Department approvals.
TheJustice Department official was “very pissed off,” according toone person close to Mr. McCabe, and pressed him to explain why theFBI was still chasing a matter the department considered dormant.Others said the Justice Department was simply trying to make sure FBIagents were following longstanding policy not to make overtinvestigative moves that could be seen as trying to influence anelection. Those rules discourage investigators from making any suchmoves before a primary or general election, and, at a minimum,checking with anticorruption prosecutors before doing so.
“Areyou telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicatedinvestigation?” Mr. McCabe asked, according to people familiar withthe conversation. After a pause, the official replied, “Of coursenot,” these people said.
ForMr. McCabe’s defenders, the exchange showed how he was stuckbetween an FBI office eager to pour more resources into a case andJustice Department prosecutors who didn’t think much of the case,one person said. Those people said that following the call, Mr.McCabe reiterated past instructions to FBI agents that they were tokeep pursuing the work within the authority they had.
Othersfurther down the FBI chain of command, however, said agents weregiven a much starker instruction on the case: “Stand down.” Whenagents questioned why they weren’t allowed to take more aggressivesteps, they said they were told the order had come from the deputydirector—Mr. McCabe.
Othersfamiliar with the matter deny Mr. McCabe or any other senior FBIofficial gave such a stand-down instruction.
Foragents who already felt uneasy about FBI leadership’s handling ofthe Clinton Foundation case, the moment only deepened their concerns,these people said. For those who felt the probe hadn’t yet foundsignificant evidence of criminal conduct, the leadership’s approachwas the right response.
InSeptember, agents on the foundation case asked to see the emailscontained on nongovernment laptops that had been searched as part ofthe Clinton email case, but that request was rejected by prosecutorsat the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn. Those emails weregiven to the FBI based on grants of partial immunity and limited-useagreements, meaning agents could only use them for the purpose ofinvestigating possible mishandling of classified information.
SomeFBI agents were dissatisfied with that answer, and asked forpermission to make a similar request to federal prosecutors inManhattan, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. McCabe,these people said, told them no and added that they couldn’t “goprosecutor-shopping.”
Notlong after that discussion, FBI agents informed the bureau’sleaders about the Weiner laptop, prompting Mr. Comey’s disclosureto Congress and setting off the furor that promises to consume thefinal days of a tumultuous campaign.
Writeto Devlin Barrett at devlin.barrett at wsj.com
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