The FBI is getting ready to analyze around 650,000 emails that are in the laptop of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner to see whether any of them have any relation to a previous investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server. “Metadata on the device suggests there may be thousands sent to or from the private server that the Democratic nominee used while she was secretary of state,” reports the Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
The probe, which was apparently delayed because agents had to wait for a court order, is expected to take weeks at least. That means that if Clinton wins the election, she will be celebrating with a cloud over her head as the FBI will at least be investigating some of her closest advisers.
The warrant to begin searching the emails has been obtained, the New York Times reports. “The process has begun,” a federal law enforcement official said. But the Times notes that law enforcement officials have said “there was no chance the email review could be completed before Election Day.”
Clinton’s campaign did not wait long to blast the Wall Street Journal story, highlighting that it says the emails “may” be related to the previous investigation into the private server. “These are misleading leaks from the FBI and its shameless,” Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon wrote on Twitter. Indeed, the Journal piece notes that first investigators have to determine whether any of the emails are between Clinton aide Huma Abedin, Weiner’s estranged wife, and State Department officials, then whether they contain classified material, and then whether any of them are duplicates of emails that have already been reviewed.
It seems to be increasingly clear that while FBI Director James Comey only learned about the existence of these potentially relevant emails recently, investigators knew for weeks, according to several reports. That is significant because if the news had been revealed earlier it “might have been less politicall damaging for Clinton,” notes the Washington Post, which also points out that it isn’t clear “what agents have been doing in the intervening time.”
Abedin, meanwhile, is a bit at a loss as to how her emails would have ended up in Weiner’s computer, according to the Post. Abedin didn’t regularly use that computer and apparently her lawyers never even searched through it because they didn’t think any messages coud be in there. An investigator tells the Associated Press that it was “news to [Abedin]” that her emails would be in her husband’s computer.