Fmr. Clinton spokesman: 'Flimsy' search warrant for emails is 'salt in the wound'
In a search warrant filed less than 10 days before November's presidential election, the FBI sought evidence of violations of a statute forbidding unauthorized gathering, transmitting or losing of defense information on a computer used by one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides.
A copy of the warrant unsealed Tuesday provides new details of the search of a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner that was also used by his wife, Clinton confidante Huma Abedin.
The revelation that emails potentially related to the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s private email server had been discovered on the device upended Clinton’s presidential campaign in the final weeks of the race. FBI Director James Comey’s vague letter alerting members of Congress about the news has been blamed by Clinton and other Democrats as a primary factor in her defeat.
A year-long investigation of the server had not turned up evidence to support criminal charges, Comey announced in July. His letter in October suggested the emails on the laptop could change that conclusion, setting off a week of intense speculation in the press and on the campaign trail.
The search warrant affidavit details how FBI agents scouring the laptop in connection with another investigation came across emails that appeared to be correspondences with State Department accounts. Much of the affidavit is redacted, but the investigation was reportedly of Weiner’s alleged sexting with a teenage girl.
Although investigators had not yet reviewed the emails, the affidavit states there was probable cause to believe some correspondences including classified material would be found on the laptop. The device had never been authorized for storage or transmission of classified information.
Two days before the election, Comey sent another letter to members of Congress informing them that the emails on the laptop had been reviewed and they did not alter his decision not to seek criminal charges against Clinton. Additional information about the contents of the emails has not been released.
Former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon called the document's "flimsy" rationale for the search warrant "salt in the wound" of the election loss.
"The unsealed filings regarding Huma's emails reveals Comey's intrusion on the election was as utterly unjustified as we suspected at the time," Fallon tweeted.
He acknowledged that the campaign made strategic errors as well, but he argued nothing in the search warrant provided the probable cause suggested by Comey's damaging letter.
"It is a stain on his personal legacy and on FBI."