Comey Sends Letter To Congress Citing New Evidence (and An Investigation) In The Clinton Email Scandal [UPDATED]

Jcomey-100Hillary_Clinton_Testimony_to_House_Select_Committee_on_BenghaziThere is a major news development with the release of a letter from FBI Director James B. Comey that the Bureau has decided that new evidence requires further investigation into the Clinton emails. It was a surprising change just days before the election. After all, as recently as September 27, 2016, Comey rejected the idea that the bureau would reopen its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Comey wrote in a letter to top members of Congress that the bureau has “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.” UPDATE: There are accounts suggesting that the information came from an investigation of Anthony Weiner, estranged husband of Huma Abedin, and that the emails were not authored by Hillary Clinton. This is still unfolding and there are calls to confirm this information. If the author is Huma Abedin, the investigation would hit one of the most senior aides. If it contained classified information, that is a stand only offense under federal law. Human Abedin was interviewed previously by the FBI — raising the risk that she will be called in for additional questioning. However, the new development could also prove insignificant for a criminal investigation and, if these were communications between Abedin and her estranged husband, it may not implicate Clinton personally or have any serious impact on the prior conclusions of the FBI investigation.

It is not clear what the “unrelated” case produced new emails related to the Clinton investigation. He also says that they are still determining whether these new emails contain “classified information” or are relevant to the overall investigation. Accordingly, this could result in a determination that the new concerns are a “dry hole” and that no further action is needed. However, it is fairly unusual to take the step to notify Congress before an election. One would assume that there is some threshold determination that the evidence warrants such a step that would inevitably cause a flair up in the political season.

I have been critical recently of the handling of the FBI investigation, particularly in the granting of immunity to key potential targets. I recently wrote a column on FBI investigation into the Clinton email scandal and revised my view as to the handling of the investigation in light of the five immunity deals handed out by the Justice Department.  I had previously noted that FBI Director James Comey was within accepted lines of prosecutorial discretion in declining criminal charges, even though I believed that such charges could have been brought. However, the news of the immunity deals (and particularly the deal given top ranking Clinton aide Cheryl Mills) was baffling and those deals seriously undermined the ability to bring criminal charges in my view.

Wikileaks disclosures have only embarrassed the Bureau further in showing Clinton aides debating how to explain the deletions and how to delay turning over material. Comey now has told legislators that “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

He did note that the FBI could not yet assess whether the new material is significant. Comey clearly felt obligated to let the Committees know about the development. In making such a decision, Comey is caught in the horns of a dilemma. The Justice Department strongly discourages investigatory announcements or actions shortly before an election to avoid any claims of trying to influence the outcome. On the other hand, if this is significant, the FBI does not want to be accused of hiding material developments from Congress or the public, particularly after criticism over its alleged different treatment given Clinton and her aides as opposed to other recent cases.

In such a situation, caution favors disclosure. It is unlikely that we will see major developments in the remaining two weeks, but the announcement shows that this is not a closed matter. In many ways, the lingering character of this scandal was only worsened by the tactics of Clinton aides in changing explanations and refusals to cooperate absent immunity. That served to delay the investigation, which will now likely extend beyond the election.

300 thoughts on “Comey Sends Letter To Congress Citing New Evidence (and An Investigation) In The Clinton Email Scandal [UPDATED]”

  1. Anthony Weiner reportedly gave the laptop to the FBI. He probably offered it up in exchange for leniency. He’s facing 15-30 years for sexting a 15 y/o girl in North Carolina, and Huma is divorcing him. He was the one who was using the laptop that once belonged to Huma, so he knew what was on it, and she had moved out of their apartment and may have forgotten about it. Weiner is a sleaze so he wouldn’t have qualms about burning Huma to save himself, and he may also be motivated by resentment against his soon-to-be ex-wife and the Clintons who have abandoned him (with good reason).

  2. trash,

    Most of the articles that I have read on this subject said that the FBI had already “seized” the computer. One article said investigators found Abedin’s emails some time ago but waited to inform Comey.

    1. edm…..Thanks.
      Other articles I read indicated that the FBI had yet to get a warrant to get possession of the laptop.
      The CNN article states that the FBI has had possession for weeks.
      And that the FBI has already obtained a warrant to search emails to/from Huma Abedin.
      If, as CNN states, the FBI discovered relevant Huma emails on the laptop “weeks ago”, then I wonder A. When they got the warrant to search her emails and B. If the other media outlets have modified/updated their claims that Comey was still seeking a warrant.
      C. (I’ ll add one more) When did Comey first notify Congress about this, if FBI agents found the Huma emails weeks ago?

      1. It is all but certain Comey was compelled to go public with this. My educated guess is that it was NYC prosecutors with ties to Rudy Giuliani who told Comey to go public, or they would.

        After all, Comey is a long-time Clinton fixer. It was the Clintons who pressed Obama to install Comey as their, er, his FBI director. If not pushed into this latest revelation Comey would almost certainly have sat on the news through election day and taken the heat and even a very public firing, before returning to his $10m a year job in the private sector.

        This is James Comey, remember, whose “investigation” of Clinton’s emails took so long only because there was so much to cover up, and because the stage-setting for his original high-wire act before Congress took so long to piece together.

  3. tnash,

    You think that the FBI wants to “BleachBit” the laptop? Why would Comey want to do that?

    1. I didn’t say that Comey wanted to do that.
      He didn’t BleachBit 33,000 Hillary emails previously erased, either.
      What I question is making an announcement that potential evidence will be examined, then waiting for days before taking possession of the evidence.
      If the reports (that the FBI does not yet have a warrant for the laptop) are true, then
      it raises a question of the timing, or sequence, of the FBI’s approach.

      1. The laptop was seized by the FBI, but they had to wait until the search warrant was signed by a judge before they could search it. They would never have left it unsecured or in the custody of the target of their investigation, as it could have been destroyed or tampered with.

  4. They reportedly have the search warrant for the laptop. Now the fun begins.

    1. How long does it take to serve the warrant?
      How long would it take to BleachBit the contents of the laptop, and does the (current) 3-4 day heads up that the laptop will be examined allow enough time to either “hammer” or BleachBit it?

      1. tnash – they have the computer in their possession from the Weiner underage sexting case. They had been examining it for kiddie porn and more selfies of Weiner and Voila!!! 650,000 emails belonging to Huma. It appears they spent several weeks reading the headers, they decided they needed to tell Comey.

    1. edm – Huma swore under oath that she had given her computers and Blackberry to her attorneys to check to see what was classified and what was not. Then, in examining a laptop used by both Weiner and Huma they find 650,000 emails. From the headers and subject lines they can tell if it is personal yoga stuff or possible classified material. I think Huma may have backed up everything the Clintons and the fdn did. That is a lot of emails.

      1. It is possible that the laptop was set up to sync with other computers in the Hillary universe. So these things could have been automatically cached there, without any overt notice to Huma or Weenie or Hillary. I don’t think any of these people were computer-sharp. Maybe they should have had a 12 year old on staff !

    2. I don’t think that’s what happened. The FBI had a search warrant for Weiner’s computer. It was an unrelated investigation by different agents, investigating Weiner for sexting a 15 y/o girl. In the course of that search, they came across emails that appeared to involve State Dept business, that should not have been on a personal computer. So they stopped the search, reported it, and sought a search warrant. Once the search warrant is approved, they can retrieve the State Dept emails and see if there is any violation of law, presumably by Huma if the emails contain classified info.

  5. independent bob,

    You’re right. If it weren’t for DWS and others of her ilk, we might have had Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee. Of course, the media was a big help to Trump who got billions of dollars worth of free press. the media practically ignored Bernie at the beginning of the presidential campaign. They were clueless as to his to his appeal to millions…until they witnessed the crowds at his rallies.

  6. Sense a little anger! The only reason he got this far is because of anger. People get pissed off and they stop thinking rationally. They had other choices, but the Republican electorate chose Trump. The Democrats had other choices too, but on their side the fix was in. Who ever wins this thing, I hope they don’t hurt us(the people too much).

    1. Hillary Clinton has materially supported or fomented the deadliest, most disastrous policies of each of the last three presidencies. Does that make her uniquely unqualified for the Oval Office?

      How does Maher explain his support for a candidate whose policies, material support for policies, and instigations have been complicit or led directly to the deaths of over one million innocent human beings?

      Clinton even supported sanctions against Iraq that killed upwards of 500,000 children. Attorney General Ramsay Clark’s attestations in this regard are excruciating. Clinton boasts of being mentored by genocidal madman Henry Kissinger. Serious question: is there anyone alive with more innocent blood on his hands than Kissinger?

      1. I meant to add, everything we rightly fear from a Trump presidency: unconscionable foreign policy advisors, warmongering, blatant racism (say, supporting the mass incarceration of black and brown men for trivlal, nonviolent drug offenses)… Hillary Clinton has already perpetrated.

        The story of this election won’t be America’s flirtation with Trump’s neo-fascism, but rather how millions of ordinary Americans and nearly the entirety of the corporate media, could so easily and even vociferously support an overt, blatant war criminal who promises only more of the same.

  7. In any other country this would not mean a thing. First of all, it wouldn’t happen as the US is the only country that has a sideshow this ridiculous. Typically when a lawsuit is presented to the fu&*ee the fu*&er does it on a Friday afternoon. This screws up the fu*&ee’s weekend and gives the fu*&er some laughs. Time will only tell but what is the most telling is how more appropriate Trump is becoming for this nonsensical, carnival like, mob called America. Perhaps this is the decline of America and it will happen with crying, rolling laughing in the aisles, and stunned faces, if Donald, Chicken Little/Everyone’s out to get me, Trump makes it. Sense a little anger?

  8. It might not be baked in. Will know more on Tuesday when polling from over the weekend starts to show up. It is also possible that her compacent base been energized but that also remains to be seen.

  9. I like to pick up on sycophant talking points. I must have heard “baked into the cake” 50 times on the Sunday shows this morning from Hillary robots.

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