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Anthony Weiner Creates a Virgin Birth for Evidence the Clinton Foundation Investigators Want

WSJ’s Devlin Barrett has a long story he describes as laying bare “tensions that have built for months inside the bureau and the Justice Department over how to investigate someone who could soon be elected president.” It might just as well be described as a catalogue of the ways FBI has gotten out of control.

To show the important background to the decision to get a warrant to access Huma Abedin’s email, I’m going to switch the order of the story from that Barrett uses. Looked at in this way, it becomes clear that by accessing Huma’s email, the FBI may not just have renewed the probably fruitless investigation into Hillary’s email server, but also found a way to access Huma’s emails for use in an investigation of the Clinton Foundation.

FBI ignores Public Integrity orders not to escalate the investigation of the Clinton Foundation

After laying out the recent decision to access Huma Abedin’s email (which I deal with below), Barrett confirms what Comey made obvious with a “neither confirm nor deny” response at his July testimony before the House Oversight Committee (though a flood of leaks had long claimed such an investigation existed).

The FBI has been investigating the Clinton Foundation for over a year.

As Barrett describes it, the case arose because Agents were seeing if a crime was committed, not because they had found evidence that it had:

Early this year, four FBI field offices—New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Little Rock, Ark.—were collecting information about the Clinton Foundation to see if there was evidence of financial crimes or influence-peddling, according to people familiar with the matter.

He describes that in February, when Andrew McCabe got promoted to Deputy Director, he took over oversight of this investigation. (In an earlier article Barrett insinuated that an earlier Terry McAuliffe donation to McCabe’s wife’s state senate campaign presented a conflict, but in this article Barrett provides McAuliffe’s explanation for the donation.) Also in February — Barrett doesn’t say whether McCabe was involved — investigative teams located in Los Angeles, DC, Little Rock, and New York (he doesn’t say whether they were in EDNY or SDNY or both, which is relevant to a later development in the story) presented their case to DOJ’s Public Integrity (PIN) section.

Here’s how Barrett describes that meeting:

Some said that is because the FBI didn’t present compelling evidence to justify more aggressive pursuit of the Clinton Foundation, and that the career anticorruption prosecutors in the room simply believed it wasn’t a very strong case. Others said that from the start, the Justice Department officials were stern, icy and dismissive of the case.

“That was one of the weirdest meetings I’ve ever been to,” one participant told others afterward, according to people familiar with the matter.

Anticorruption prosecutors at the Justice Department told the FBI at the meeting they 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 authority to pursue the leads and methods already under way, these people said.

Mind you, seven paragraphs before describing PIN telling the FBI it would not authorize subpoenas, Barrett described the Los Angeles team having “issued some subpoenas for bank records related to the foundation.” So when he says FBI officials believed they could pursue leads and methods already under way, it may mean they decided they could use the fruit of subpoenas PIN subsequently judged weren’t merited by the evidence.

In July, after DOJ decided not to prosecute anyone on the email server and Comey started blabbing (including his non-denial of the existence of this investigation), FBI “sought to refocus the Clinton Foundation probe,” which sounds a lot like redoubling efforts to find something to investigate Hillary for. (Note, this entire article makes no mention of the June Supreme Court decision throwing out much of former VA governor Bob McDonnell’s conviction, which would have significantly raised the bar for any prosecution of the Clinton Foundation.) McCabe bracketed the DC work focusing on Terry McAuliffe, from which he was recused, and put NY in charge of the rest.

Barrett spends a paragraph airing both sides of a dispute about whether that was the right decision, then describes a (male, and therefore someone besides Loretta Lynch or Sally Yates) senior DOJ official bitching out McCabe for continuing to pursue the Clinton Foundation investigation, especially during the election.

According to a person familiar with the probes, on Aug. 12, a senior Justice Department official called Mr. McCabe to voice his displeasure at finding that New York FBI agents were still openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation probe during the election season. Mr. McCabe said agents still had the authority to pursue the issue as long as they didn’t use overt methods requiring Justice Department approvals.

The Justice Department official was “very pissed off,” according to one person close to Mr. McCabe, and pressed him to explain why the FBI was still chasing a matter the department considered dormant.

Barrett spends several paragraphs airing both sides of what happened next, whether FBI agents were ordered to stand down entirely or whether McCabe said they could continue to investigate within the existing guidelines.

FBI attempts to venue shop to get at Clinton server emails

Even after that order, the Clinton Foundation investigators tried to get more — specifically, all the emails turned over in the email server investigation. When EDNY (as a reminder, that’s where Loretta Lynch was until last year US Attorney) refused, the investigators asked to go get them in SDNY.

In September, agents on the foundation case asked to see the emails contained on nongovernment laptops that had been searched as part of the Clinton email case, but that request was rejected by prosecutors at the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn. Those emails were given to the FBI based on grants of partial immunity and limited-use agreements, meaning agents could only use them for the purpose of investigating possible mishandling of classified information.

Some FBI agents were dissatisfied with that answer, and asked for permission to make a similar request to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. McCabe, these people said, told them no and added that they couldn’t “go prosecutor-shopping.”

Several comments on this: First, McCabe did the right thing here in refusing to let his agents venue shop until they got their way. I hope he would do the same in a less visible investigation where senior DOJ officials were chewing him out for conducting the investigation in the first place.

Second, consider how the timing of this coincides with both leaks about the immunity agreements, Jason Chaffetz’ inquiry into the same, and two sets of email server related materials. As one key example, on October 5, just weeks after McCabe told his Agents they couldn’t go “prosecutor-shopping” to get to the emails released in the email server probe, Republicans were releasing details of their in camera review of the terms of the immunity agreements used to deny the Clinton Foundation investigations access to the emails. We should assume that some entities within the FBI are using all angles, using Chaffetz’ investigations to publicize decisions that have thwarted their investigation.

Did FBI Agents review the content of Huma Abedin’s email without a warrant?

So sometime in September, the Clinton foundation team was told they couldn’t have emails associated with the server investigation that were tied to immunity agreements. On October 3 (per the NYT), FBI agents seized a number of devices, including a laptop used jointly by Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin with a warrant permitting just the investigation of Weiner’s alleged sexting of an underaged woman (curiously, Barrett says they were permitted to look for child porn). Shortly thereafter, they found found emails from accounts, plural, of Huma Abedin on the laptop. Multiple reports suggest those emails may be duplicative of the ones that FBI had just been told they couldn’t access because of the immunity agreements tied to other devices.

There’s no reason to believe FBI found those potentially duplicative emails because they were prohibited from accessing the ones turned over voluntarily as part of the email server probe (in any case, they are presented as different investigative teams, although the description of this sprawling Clinton Foundation investigation may explain why earlier leaks said 147 people were part of the Clinton investigation); it’s just one of those coinkydinks that seem to plague the Clintons.

At that point, per Barrett, “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.” Early last week (so two or three weeks later), some asked how that weeks-long review of the Huma emails (allegedly just the metadata) was going.

“At that point, officials realized that no one had acted to obtain a warrant, these people said.”

In other words, for several weeks, FBI has been nosing around those emails without court authorization to do so in conjunction with the email server investigation (which may or may not have been formally closed). If they really stuck to metadata, that’s no big deal under Third Party rules. If they did peek — even at subject lines — then that may be a bigger problem.

Only then did the Weiner investigators compare notes with the Hillary investigators and decide the emails were relevant. Barrett doesn’t answer the obvious question: how did the Weiner investigators determine these emails might be relevant and did they really just review only metadata? Given all the stories to FBI friendly sources claiming Comey — and implying no one — has seen the content of the email, I suspect the answer is Weiner investigators went beyond metadata.

The background Barrett provides gives more significance to FBI’s decision to (perhaps belatedly) obtain a warrant to get Huma’s email and to Comey’s highly inappropriate magnification of it. Not only have they reopened (or renewed — reports on this are still all over the map on this point) the email investigation, but they’ve also created a virgin birth for emails that the Clinton foundation investigators tried — and were willing to venue shop — but failed to get.

FBI leaking has neutralized DOJ’s control over the Bureau

This story shows that FBI has tried a number of methods to defy PIN advice to drop the investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

I don’t know whether the investigation into the Clinton Foundation has merit or not (though given Barrett’s explanation, it does seem that some in FBI were looking for a crime rather than looking to solve one).

But I do know that if FBI agents operate outside of bounds on their power, they constitute a grave threat to the rule of law.

And Barrett’s article suggests at least three ways they appear to have done just that:

  • Fiddling with investigative guidelines of the DIOG (by using subpoenas without the appropriate level of investigation and authority)
  • Attempting to venue shop to get permission to access evidence they were told they couldn’t have
  • Leaking promiscuously, in clear violation of the rules, to bring political pressure including on Comey to conduct an investigation their supervisors had told them to either limit or halt

That promiscuous leaking, of course, includes this article, which relied on a great number of sources, almost none of whom should be speaking about this investigation. Don’t get me wrong — it’s great reporting on Barrett’s part. But it also serves the purpose of airing the claim that McCabe, PIN, and DOJ generally have thwarted an investigation into the Clinton Foundation that some at FBI believe has merit.

In addition, I’ve got questions about whether they read Huma’s email when they were supposed to just be looking at metadata.

Whatever else Comey’s totally inappropriate behavior reflects, his justification for doing so because it otherwise might leak suggests he doesn’t have control over his agency. Though given his coy response to Chaffetz in July, I do wonder whether he isn’t rooting for the Clinton foundation investigation to proceed; whatever else he is, Comey is a master of using the press to win political fights.

And remember, the FBI (under Comey) has undermined one of the few irreproachable entities that might fix this sorry state of affairs. It has refused, now backed by an OLC opinion, to give DOJ’s Inspector General the unfettered right to investigate things like grand jury proceedings (though given that no grand jury was used in these cases, it might be harder to keep them out here). So if Patrick Leahy were to ask Michael Horowitz to investigate whether FBI acted inappropriately in these related investigations — and he should! — FBI might be able to withhold information from the IG.

A bunch of people who have unquestioned faith in the goodness of DOJ — now including Eric Holder, the guy who couldn’t prosecute a single criminal bank — have been, rightly, scolding Comey for his actions. But they have largely remained utterly silent about the runaway agents at the FBI, both about their obvious leaking and now about their efforts to sustain this investigation in defiance of at least some of the chain of command, including career prosecutors who should be fairly insulated from any political influence that someone like Lynch might respond to.

As I said, I’m agnostic about the investigation of the Clinton Foundation. I’m not agnostic on the importance of keeping FBI firmly within the bureaucratic bounds that prevents them from acting as an abusive force.

They seem to have surpassed those bounds.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

46 replies
  1. bevin says:

    “…I don’t know whether the investigation into the Clinton Foundation has merit or not …”
    The very high profile of this case- the possibility of influence peddling by the Secretary of State in office- would seem to me to be an argument for being very careful not to allow the state’s agents to become complicit in the possible crime.
    How it was possible for those running the Foundation not to understand that it was wrong to allow, for example, the names of donors and the amounts of their gifts to be known to the Secretary of State is unfathomable. Were the Foundation a business enterprise it would have been turned over to a blind trust, would it not?

    “But I do know that if FBI agents operate outside of bounds on their power, they constitute a grave threat to the rule of law….”
    You are right, but this horse left the stable long ago and has since become a chartered member of the oligarchy, in whose interests it flouts the rule of law with metronomic regularity.

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know how a nonprofit could be blind — donors+donations are public record in Form 990s. Only way this foundation could have remained immaculate is for it to suspend operations as long as HRC was SecState, and how would they have done that in the middle of existing programs?

      Puzzles me that closer scrutiny of foundation didn’t begin as soon as HRC began role as SecState, which might have prevented perception of wrongdoing years later. I guess there were too many resources tied up screaming “BENGHAZI!”

  2. b says:

    Hmm – not as confident in the neutrality of the Justice Department as you are. Maybe the FBI folks are onto something?
    Doesn’t this smells of parallel construction? They know for sure that there is dirt in the Clinton Foundation & emails from another source which they can not reveal, They now construct a case to get legal access to evidence they already know is there. It would explain why they try so hard and by various means.

    If Clinton wins will hearings and impeachment procedures start before or only after January?

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m not confident in the neutrality of DOJ. Just most confident in PIN out of the whole mess of politically motivated types.

      And yes, it totally feels like parallel construction. This would not be the first case where one FBI investigation was supposedly cordoned off from another where I think that cordon didn’t hold (about the only way to explain prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling is to believe that team had far more from the Stellar Wind investigative team that didn’t make it into trial, for example).

      But as I keep saying, given the McDonnell precedent, I think it possible PIN had doubts about the ability to go to prosecution, regardless of what they’re looking at.

      • emptywheel says:

        Adding, that I do think the immunity decisions made in the server investigation were dubious. But I also think they were made because Hillary, and only Hillary, was treated as the target. I think it would have been far easier to indict Cheryl Mills than Hillary, but they immunized her to assess Hillary’s role.

    • rugger9 says:

      Impeachment is a given, Chaffetz already tipped that hand.  It’s also why it takes 2/3 of the Senate to convict and remove.  If Comey had anything (and the agents had these emails for months, now) it would have come leaking out (and may have).  As it is, there is a fair probability (pure speculation until the conveniently delayed warrant is executed) any Clinton emails are already reviewed.  One point to remember from the discussion, any Wiener sexting case warrant would not apply to Clinton stuff, since his stuff is from 2015 on and she was long gone from the State Department by then.  “Plain view” is not likely since while top-level metadata (to, from, ccs) can be accessed under this rule, apparently subject lines and content cannot (let’s ask our lawyers!) without a subsequent warrant.  It’s the particular description requirement of the 4th Amendment that would cause the problem.

      On the Orange Claudius side we have the trial starting in December about the rape of a child, combined with the hearing in December about Trump “University” featuring racketeering, combined with whatever the various criminal investigations the FBI is forced to reveal (Russians, the Mob, taxes, groping, etc.) I can’t see that Donald is going to skate free either.  IOKIYAR has a long reach, but I would cynically suspect that the preferred GOP outcome is the OC is “elected” and then forced to resign (good luck with that – not gonna happen with the Donald) leaving the reliable Dominionist Pence as POTUS even though he wouldn’t even win re-election as IN governor.

      Trump tells his supporters to vote often, and so some did: http://www.rawstory.com/2016/10/republican-trump-voter-arrested-in-iowa-for-voter-fraud-after-allegedly-attempting-to-rig-election/

       

      • bmaz says:

        Not months, no. FBI took possession of the subject device(s) on October 3, but did not purported start inventorying and inspecting for several days.

        Yes, you are basically right about the dating of material and warrant requirements. Note that such is not an absolute bar, just might result in exclusion from evidentiary hearings and trial later. Also, that would only be as to Weiner and/or abed in, as Clinton would have no privacy interest in Weiner’s computer.

  3. lefty665 says:

    Thanks for the analysis, it helped me make sense of the WSJ article.

    Help please, it had been my understanding from previous discussions that subject lines were considered part of meta data. Is that not so, or is it different in a search than an intercept?

  4. Curious says:

    I’ve been following most of the recent hearings at the committee of oversight, and I thought it was weird seeing two questions in total (separate occasions) was left unanswered, and I thought that was strange.

    In both events, neither the republican asking the question nor the person supposed to answer cared to act on this further. The ones questioned in the two events didn’t move a muscle when asked the questions as I remember it. It sort of sounded like the republican side of the committee tossed out two such questions with disinterest, and then just moved on to the next question not bothering getting an answer.

    I would have to go back and check for the phrasing of the particular question though, as I have forgotten this now. I vaguely recall one question was for FBI’s acting director of congressional affairs, and I believe the other case was a question asked by one of the republicans that aren’t the regulars (not Gowdy, nor Chaffetz), might have been one of the chubby ones (male).

  5. Curious says:

    To add to what I wrote:

    Ok, I’ve managed to tracked down one of the questions that was left unanswered (something I’ve commented on elsewhere): At one point in the hearings, Comey was asked if he would now reopen the investigation, because it looks like someone was involved in a cover up. Comey didn’t asnwer, and as I remember it, he didn’t move a muscle.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      His non response would indicate
      to me that it was already happening
      and he could not comment, or,
      at that point, was being told to do so.

      Either way is fishy based on his July
      statements.

      What was the date of this hearing?

  6. cynthia kouril says:

    Why.how do you believe that FBI is using subpoenas? With the exception of some administrative subpoenas, that don’t apply here, FBI can’t issue subpoena’s on their own. They need an AUSA to sign it. FBI cannot go to Grand Jury on its own

    • emptywheel says:

      Because the article said (as I quoted) the LA team “issued some subpoenas for bank records related to the foundation.”

  7. Trevanion says:

    There’s no denying there is a bureaucratic problem with DoJ.

    But it seems to me that it is the mysterious decades-long shrinkage of a judiciary branch that once-upon-a-time used to hold itself as a co-equal to the two other branches that has set the stage for an entire shit show, from these mouth-breathers being out of control  to the pass given to the banksters to the slow strangulation of the 4th and 5th amendments.

  8. jerryy says:

    There are a few things that are not clear about the magnitude of the email archive. The machine in question is a laptop, presumably a generic off the shelf kind. The size of the archives would cause problems for a desktop machine and would cause even today’s laptops to flounder. Much less ones that would have been used over the time period reported to be transfered to the one in question.

    After you get past 100.000 messages or so, the email client on the laptop would have problems talking to the email server, because it takes a while for all of the proper indexing to synchronize. In other words, things seem to bog down each time the laptop connects to the server to check for emails. If Mr. Wiener was actively using the machine for sexting purposes as it is speculated, the machine would have seemed to have self-distructed — possibly to the piint where tech support would need to be involved — and the cause would wuickly be found.

    • lefty665 says:

      You’re talking not more than 50-75gb. 500gb or larger drives have been common on laptops for years, so that’s not much more than 10% of the drive. It is not likely there is a disk space issue.  All you do when you sync with the server is pick up from where the last download ended. That’s relatively quick, especially if they had good bandwith. Verizon FIOS would have made it trivial.

      The real problem may have come when Huma wiped the laptop with a cloth and figured it was “cleaned”.

        • lefty665 says:

          I’ve got probably 250k of email history I’m too lazy to clean out. It takes 10-20 seconds when I fire up email in the morning to sync and download new spam. That time is independent of the amount of history. The variable is how much new stuff there is to download, and the time that takes varies inversely with bandwidth. Disagree all you want, I have a demonstration every morning, and it has not been a problem in this millennium.

           

          FYI

          The first link you provided was to Outlook Express. That is obsolete and stopped shipping with IE v6 in approximately 2001.

          The superuser link you provided documented size limits using older versions (especially 03/07 and to a lesser degree 2010) of outlook and older exchange servers.

          Do you have any specific reason to think wiener and Huma, or their email providers, were using obsolete/obsolescent software?

  9. John Casper says:

    bevin,

    Have you considered the possibility that its a branch of the “oligarchy,” who “flouts the rule of law with metronomic regularity” who are behind the rogue FBI agents who pressured Comey?

    “The possibility of influence peddling by the” FBI Director “in office- would seem to me to be an argument for being very careful not to allow” FBI “agents to become complicit in the possible crime.”

  10. martin says:

    quote”There are a few things that are not clear about the magnitude of the email archive”unquote

    Indeed. At 160k emails, if all were from Clinton,(Huma didn’t even know they existed)this breaks down to approx. 110 emails per day, over 4 yrs. Fuck, who can write 110 emails in a day??.

    • jerryy says:

      I guess if you never have face to face meetings or never use phones to keep in touch and never go to lunch or have any time for anything else in your day you could do that, but then ‘Why?’

    • Avattoir says:

      I think  you’re misunderstanding what the FBI leakers are saying. They’re NOT saying 160k Abedin-related emails; the most that’s been mentioned is around 10k Abedin-related out of 65 times that in total.

      And they’re not saying Weiner “sent” 65ok or so emails; they’re saying there’s metadata they (presumably) can point to that says or implies that many.

      Have you even donated to a political campaign? Bet they still contract you repeatedly, multiple times daily during election season, even years after you sent in you ten bucks or whatever. And you don’t even need to go that far: just putting your email in for receiving one campaign’s updates will get you haunted for years, unless you act to unsubscribe, and sometimes even that’s not sufficient.

      Now consider who Anthony Weiner was: a 7 time elected House rep and later a candidate for mayor of the Big Apple. I’m thinking he’s on EVERYONE’S campaign update list, for hundreds of candidates at a time, going back years. And not just for Congress, but for NY state & NYC local elective offices as well. That’s hundreds and hundred of campaigns send at least formatted emails to his email address, on peak days multiple messages for each campaign. I mean, 500 to 1000 email incoming messages on a given day in an election season may not seem like much, but after a while, they add up to real traffic.

      Ask bmaz about superlarge law enforcement projects, how frail they are to pretrial discovery & how they can fall apart sheerly as a matter of their own massiveness.

  11. Kate says:

    and don’t forget the possibility that the laptop  may have been tampered with at some point(s) in its journeys….

    • John Casper says:

      Times 2.

      Apologies if this isn’t helpful to the wider discussion. WRT Wisconsin Gov. Walker on September 17, 2016 “John Doe special prosecutor wasn’t aware of lead legislation.”

      “The special prosecutor tasked with explaining to the courts why a John Doe investigation should have continued was unaware that Republican lawmakers had passed legislation favorable to a lead industry billionaire who gave $750,000 to help them win recalls in 2011 and 2012.”

      http://www.wiscnews.com/news/state-and-regional/article_968ab5b8-33ca-591d-ab65-ef3dc7a9eeb6.html

      I believe Schmitz is a Republican and didn’t sign the recall against Gov. Walker.

      A majority of Justices on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court–funded by the same oligarchs who the John Doe was investigating–killed the investigation. I’m not sure if the oligarchs are continuing retaliation they initiated through their proxies.

      “MacIver Institute Files Federal Suit Againat John Doe Prosecutors”

      http://www.rightwisconsin.com/opinion/perspectives/maciver-institute-files-federal-suit-againat-john-doe-prsoecutors

      IIRC, Gov. Walker decided NOT to fund the John Doe prosecutors’ battle to defend themselves. AFAIK, that’s contrary to all Wisconsin precedent for protecting prosecutorial immunity.

      This Republican is now back practicing law. From 2014 “Ex-DA Ken Kratz’s law license suspended in sexting scandal.”

      MADISON, Wis. – A former state prosecutor and victims’ rights advocate who tried to spark a sexual relationship with a domestic abuse victim and made sexual remarks to social workers cannot practice law for four months, the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced Friday.
      As well as suspending Ken Kratz’s law license, the court called his actions “appalling” and ordered him to pay $23,904 to cover the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.
      “This was exploitative behavior, harassing behavior, and a crass placement of his personal interests above those of his client, the State of Wisconsin,” the court wrote in a collective decision that wasn’t signed by any single justice.”

      http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ex-da-ken-kratzs-law-license-suspended-in-sexting-scandal/

  12. bloopie2 says:

    “In addition to reopening the email server investigation, by obtaining a new copy of thousands of Huma Abedin’s emails, the FBI has also obtained via separate means information that Clinton Foundation investigators had been prohibited from obtaining.” Ah, yes, let’s all share now, shall we? My email, your email, cc Uncle Buck, Reply All, Forward–it’s so easy, see? And we don’t even have to cut down a forest for that—just a political campaign, a Foundation, a few reputations here and there, all our privacy—what could possibly go wrong?

  13. m says:

    ……the FBI has also obtained via separate means information that Clinton Foundation investigators had been prohibited from obtaining.”

    ummm, wait… wait..   Prohibited from obtaining?  Unless I’m missing something, this tells me the DOJ and FBI already KNEW the emails were on Wiener’s computer… somehow?????????

    What am I missing here?  I thought the FBI “accidentally” discovered these emails while searching for Wiener’s weener pics?  How could they be “prohibited” in the first place???

    Something smells like a fish here.

    • bmaz says:

      Why? There is no specific indication they are related. They are putatively different investigative teams.

    • bellesouth says:

      The IG has investigated Abedin before. Last year, the watchdog concluded she was overpaid nearly $10,000 because of violations of sick leave and vacation policies, a finding that Abedin and her attorneys have contested.
      Republican lawmakers, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), have alleged that Abedin’s role at the center of overlapping public and private Clinton worlds created the potential for conflicts of interest…
      Abedin served as deputy chief of staff at State starting in 2009. For the second half of 2012, she participated in the “special government employee” program that enabled her to work simultaneously in the State Department, the foundation, Hillary Clinton’s personal office and Teneo, a private consultancy with close ties to the Clintons.
      Abedin has been a visible part of Hillary Clinton’s world since she served as an intern in the 1990s for the then-first lady while attending George Washington University. On the campaign trail, Clinton is rarely seen in public without Abedin somewhere nearby…Republican lawmakers have alleged that foreign officials and other powerful interests with business before the U.S. government gave large donations to the Clinton Foundation to curry favor with a sitting secretary of state and a potential future president.
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-foundation-received-subpoena-from-state-department-investigators/2016/02/11/ca5125b2-cce4-11e5-88ff-e2d1b4289c2f_story.html

  14. rugger9 says:

    The McDonnell case makes even the most feverish anti-HRC allegation look like child’s play, since there was a definite quid-pro-quo there in evidence for McDonnell’s conviction in what was then a RED state. When contrasted with the deafening wall of silence about the Trump foundation’s worse peccadillos (Bondi and Abbott, for example) which included readily apparent quid pro quos to spike investigations into Trump “University” in Florida and Texas, respectively it is clear that a double standard exists within Comey’s FBI. Comey has nothing and he knows it, but with Gowdy and Chaffetz putting the squeeze on him he had to do something. Until the 22 million missing W-administration emails are found (Rove and Bolten were found in contempt of Congress in 2008 in part for these), or former AL governor Siegelman is released (how is he STILL in jail if McDonnell is not?) or the many Trump scandals are fully investigated (taxes, emails, etc.) IOKIYAR is the rule of the day in the FBI. Why not look at Trump’s relations with Russia as Harry Reid noted?

    Trump’s campaign may also have been tipped off: http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/10/31/1588467/-Smelling-A-Rat-What-Did-Trump-Campaign-Giuliani-Know-When-Did-They-Know-It

    More on Trump’s email problem: http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/10/31/1589009/-Donald-Trump-destroyed-emails-recordings-documents-in-defiance-of-court-orders

    One of the little-discussed policies of the Bushies had to do with infecting and burrowing in as many operatives into the civil service arm in order to protect their own and to prevent any changes from Cheney / PNAC policies. Add to that the possibility that some of these agents are rogue in other ways in addition to not following the requirement for warrants (since I am not a lawyer, doesn’t this make all of this evidence “tainted” in court and unusable?), as well as being macho tough guys there is good cause to believe that dissension exists in the ranks of the FBI between the professionals and the yahoos. The true root cause is not being reported, however.

    • RUKidding says:

      I don’t know whether Putin is involved in this election at all, and I’m not satisfied that Putin is, in some way, doing some kind of election dance with Trump. That Harry Reid claims something along these lines is meaningless (to me, at least).  So I’m skeptical about the Trump/Russia/Putin alleged connection.  Might be there; might not be.

      That said, there’s loads of other stuff that Trump’s up to his neck in – all the Trump “University” stuff including Abbott and Biondi turning their heads and looking the other way after a nice little kick-back from Trump.  The issues with Trump groping women and possible sexual involvement with an underage girl, etc.  The media was very “loud” about the groping women stuff, but pretty darn quiet about Trump “U” and the underage girl.

      Clearly that slimeball Chaffetz was tipped off re the Weiner weener emails, which makes me even more suss of Comey and where he’s, uh, coming from.  Hillary Haters on both sides of the aisle are celebrating this latest big not-quite-a-reveal from Comey, while not really thinking through the implications of what, exactly, Comey did.

      Just another reason to be highly suss of just about anything the Fibbies do.  Comey should really retire for this mess he created.  I’m not the biggest Clinton fan out there, but this just reeks to high heaven.  All Comey did, for me, was solidify my vote for Hillary (I had been toying with voting for Stein).  I know that “liberal” Hillary Haters love to shout about how 2 wrongs don’t make a right, so pointing out the Bush era “lost” emails is no excuse/justification re Clinton. Well, yeah, ok.  Fine.  I can go with that.  But when REPUBLICAN Comey shoots off his mouth like this?  Gimme a break.

      Yeah, the Democratic party is pretty worthless and mos def the lesser of 2 evils (thus making it evil).  But when I daily witness what the GOP engages and indulges itself in???  Seriously, I have to vote the big D, no matter what.

      Sadly, though, should Clinton get in this time around, we’re still going to be in obstructionist stalemate-ville for the foreseeable future.  Like I just LOVE MY tax dollar$$ being wasted on YET MORE Clinton witch hunts.  Eff Chaffetz, the Slime Lord.

  15. John Casper says:

    Apologies if this isn’t helpful. In that case please ignore.
    Has Comey opened the FBI up to having to comment on all investigations of all police shootings and deaths in custody?

    Since Donald Trump confessed on tape to sexual assaults of multiple victims, can we get an update on the FBI’s investigation?

  16. seedeevee says:

    “(curiously, Barrett says they were permitted to look for child porn)”

    I would imagine a sexting case with a 15 year old girl would have a higher probability of Weiner asking for and teen supplying nudies that would be in his pc and/or phone.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, a search parameter for child porn is pretty standard in warrants like this, whether they be for physical or electronic things.

  17. William C Clarke says:

    The FBI has been a political organ since it was founded and Hubert Humphrey created a Stasi-like secret police within the FBI. One word: Cointelpro.

  18. jerryy says:

    [email protected]:11 p.m.

    The reply button is not working right for some reason…

    “Do you have any specific reason to think wiener and Huma, or their email providers, were using obsolete/obsolescent software?”

    Yes. IT shops cannot afford to jump on the new releases when they are released, it cause too many problems for them … better the old devil you know than the new headaches. It was not so much insanely obsolete, as it was something that works.

    http://windowsitpro.com/blog/changing-circumstances-make-it-difficult-measure-adoption-rate-exchange-2013

  19. Denis says:

    1.
    Marcey’s link to the WSJ goes to a paywall. Try this one: http://www.wsj.com/articles/laptop-may-include-thousands-of-emails-linked-to-hillary-clintons-private-server-1477854957

    If you want to be first to comment on Barret’s post, ur 2 late. It’s got over 4400 comments already.

    2.
    Barrett: “the warrant they used [to search Weiner’s laptop] didn’t give them [FIB agents] authority to search for matters related to Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement at the State Department.”

    Not sure I get this. Seems the plain view rule would make anything on that computer subject to seizure.

    The plain view rule includes the proviso that cops executing a search warrant can only look in places where the items listed on the warrant could reasonably be found. If the warrant is for a kidnaped rhinoceros and the cops look in the Mrs.’ knickers-drawer and find a nickle-bag, then they can’t use the dope as evidence in any case b/c one would not reasonably expect to find a rhino in a lady’s knickers-drawer, although that may be less true in some instances than others, depending on the size of the knickers.

    Extrapolating that example to em’s on a laptop . . .to my mind, if the warrant is for evidence of kiddie-porn/sexting, that stuff could reasonably be expected to be hiding just about anywhere in the computer, meaning anything on the computer would fall under the plain view rule. Even if a folder was named: “Hil’s_Top_Secret_DoS_Stuff,” there is no reason that kiddie-porn/sexting couldn’t physically exist in that folder. And so if the FIB agents working on the Weiner cluster-fuck found looked in that folder for sexting evidence and found 650K em’s related to HilBil-RICO, Inc., seems to me no further warrant would be required to seize those em’s. This is my very low-level speculation. I don’t know what the courts have said recently about the plain view rule when it comes to searching computers and whether or not metadata affect how the rule is applied.

    3.
    Barrett: In February of this year, Mr. McCabe ascended from the No. 3 position at the FBI to the deputy director post. When he assumed that role, officials say, he started overseeing the probe into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server for government work when she was secretary of state. . . FBI officials have said Mr. McCabe had no role in the Clinton email probe until he became deputy director,

    The whole McCabe carbuncle is so full of pus, it’s where most of the stink is coming from in this malodorous mess. Completely skipping over the way McCabe, McAuliffe, and HilBil-RICO, Inc are all three connected at the hip, and the way McCabe was trying to kill the investigation of HilBil-RICO, Inc. simplifies the storyline of this post considerably, but at the cost of truth.

    Just the point that McCabe was promoted to #2 spot in the FIB AFTER the investigation got under way and then tried to shoot it down is enough to make a turnup puke when one realizes that $500,000 passed from Clinton-led fund-raiser to McAuliffe’s people, to the campaign of Jill McCabe. In another fund-raiser Hil raised $1M for McCabe’s buddy McAuliffe. Cllintons’ Karl Rove look-alike, Doug Band, was all over this, and anything he touches is guaranteed to stink.

    But the point is the way McCabe suddenly found himself in a position of power where he could put leverage on Comey and the agents trying to get to the truth of the matter. McCabe recused himself from the FIB investigation of McAuliffe, but not so the Hilton em or HilBil-RICO, Inc. investigation. Amazing how these things work out, ain’t it?

    More:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3876506/Hillary-Clinton-headlined-fundraiser-campaign-group-gave-500-000-wife-FBI-boss-investigated-emails-s-closely-linked-bid-power.html

    4.
    Marcy: “Barrett spends a paragraph airing both sides of a dispute about whether that was the right decision, then describes a (male, and therefore someone besides Loretta Lynch or Sally Yates) senior DOJ official bitching out McCabe for continuing to pursue the Clinton Foundation investigation, especially during the election. “

    I’d be careful with that parenthetical conclusion. Reporters swap those gender pronouns all the time for this very reason: to throw off people trying to suss-out who said what to whom.

    5.
    Marcy: “But I do know that if FBI agents operate outside of bounds on their power, they constitute a grave threat to the rule of law.”

    Seems to me that this goes the opposite way: It’s Loretta and DoJ who are the grave threat. When you look at the way this thing has unfolded; and Bilton’s private meeting w/ Loretta the day before the em investigation is called off; and the way immunity has been handed out like candy on Halloween; and the way FIB failed to secure and examine over a dozen Hilton-related devices that have gone missing – one of which was “put in the mail” and disappeared – when you consider this thing in its totality, the only reasonable conclusion is not that the grave threat is not from the FIB agents doing their job, but from someone at or near the top who is hampering FIB agents who are trying to find the truth. That’s what’s scary.

    6.
    McDonnell??? McDonnell is completely irrelevant.

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