You may recall that on Wednesday, this writer was the first to report that professor and attorney Seth Abramson had amassed what appears to be compelling evidence that FBI agents conspired to derail Hillary Clinton’s campaign and throw the election to Donald Trump. Specifically, in the 24 days after FBI agents discovered emails from one of Hillary’s senior aides, Huma Abedin, on the laptop of her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, they found the time to tell agents investigating Hillary’s email server before telling FBI director James Comey to get a warrant for the emails. The agents investigating the server, in turn, illegally leaked information about the emails to Rudy Giuliani, a top Trump aide.
Well, on Thursday afternoon, more evidence came to light that proves there’s a rank odor surrounding the events leading up to Comey’s now-infamous letter to Congress–a move that almost certainly cost Hillary the Electoral College. Abedin’s lawyers claim that the FBI never told their client that it was getting a warrant for the emails it discovered.
You may recall that E. Randol Schoenberg is suing the FBI to force the release of the warrant for Abedin’s emails. He wouldn’t have even had to go that route if the FBI had complied with a FOIA request for that warrant. Federal judge P. Kevin Castel has given pretty loud hints that he intends to side with Schoenberg and release the warrant–possibly before the Electoral College convenes on Monday.
Late Thursday afternoon, Schoenberg tweeted this letter from Abedin’s legal team.
— E Randol Schoenberg (@RandySchoenberg) December 15, 2016
Abedin’s attorney, Karen Dunn, told Castel that the FBI never gave Abedin or Weiner received a copy of the warrant–a clear violation of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Specifically, Rule 41, section F, paragraph C:
“The officer executing the warrant must give a copy of the warrant and a receipt for the property taken to the person from whom, or from whose premises, the property was taken or leave a copy of the warrant and receipt at the place where the officer took the property.”
Dunn also wrote that she didn’t even know the emails were on Weiner’s computer until she learned about Comey’s letter to Congress. This is especially important since we know that the FBI hadn’t even interviewed Abedin as late as October 29.
When Abramson saw this on his Twitter feed, he realized it was a huge red flag.
BREAKING NEWS: FBI Broke Protocol By Not Giving Abedin or Weiner Copy of Critical Search Warrant. (Further evidence it wasn't on up and up?) pic.twitter.com/ZgQDq3FvAm
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) December 15, 2016
We already knew that the warrant would say a lot about whether FBI agents deliberately tried to cripple Hillary’s election chances. I had a lengthy conversation with Abramson about his findings on Twitter. As a public defender for six years in New Hampshire and one year in Massachusetts, he saw his fair share of shoddy warrants, so it wouldn’t have surprised him if this warrant joined the list.
Specifically, he suggested that we should watch to see if the agent who wrote the warrant had been one of the agents who had been busted for using “conspiracy theories” from “Clinton Cash,” the thoroughly debunked hit piece book by Peter Schweizer, as “criminally actionable intelligence.” He also thought it would be telling if one of the Weiner agents wrote the warrant, but sought input from email server agents–who, as we know, knew about it well Comey did even though the Weiner agents were well aware Comey was the only one who could get a warrant.
The discovery that neither Abedin or Weiner even saw the warrant, however, is absolutely staggering. Abramson told me that it’s very likely that the basis for that warrant was so flimsy that “the FBI didn’t want Abedin or Weiner to see it before the election”–either because they might have challenged it in court or because they could contend the warrant contained “signs of political motivations, leaked info, or other nefarious oversights/additions.”
By itself, not notifying Abedin and Weiner about the warrant is grossly unprofessional. But let’s put this next to what we have already learned. The agents knew they needed a warrant for those emails, and yet couldn’t find the time to alert Comey that they needed one until just two weeks from Election Day. They couldn’t find the time to interview Abedin, let alone get her a copy of the warrant.However, they found the time to tell the agents working on the Hillary email server case. The agents working on the Hillary case, in turn, leaked the information to one of Trump’s closest advisers. What’s wrong with this picture?
If this situation wasn’t already in “what did they know and when did they know it” territory, this revelation from Schoenberg definitely puts it there. When unprofessional conduct is the best-case scenario in this situation, it’s not a good sign. But this many lapses in basic standards all at once? At this point, you at least have to wonder if this wasn’t just unprofessional conduct, but a deliberate attempt to throw the election to Trump.
(featured image courtesy DonkeyHotey, available under a Creative Commons-BY license)