Clinton’s missing emails

The FBI begins analyzing Huma Abedin’s newly discovered emails.

Abedin crying after learning the FBI has re-opened the Clinton email investigation. (Credit: public domain)

Abedin’s reaction is captured after learning the FBI has re-opened the Clinton email investigation. (Credit: public domain)

On October 30, 2016, the FBI obtained a search warrant, allowing its agents who had taken part in the FBI’s Clinton email investigation to have access to hundreds of thousands of emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. According to the New York Times, by the next day, the FBI begins using a special computer program that can help FBI analysts determine whether the emails contain classified information.

Clinton turned over about 30,000 of her emails to the State Department in December 2014, and deleted about another 31,000. The FBI recovered about 17,000 of those deleted emails during its investigation, which concluded in July 2016. The program should allow analysts to learn relatively quickly how many emails are previously known copies. Abedin also had an email account on Clinton’s server, and there are thousands of her emails not sent to or from Clinton, but their exact number is unknown.

Abedin is seen arriving at Clinton's campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, two days after the FBI reopened the Clinton email case. (Credit: Jae Donnelly / The Daily Mail)

Abedin is seen arriving at Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, two days after the FBI reopened the Clinton email case. (Credit: Jae Donnelly / The Daily Mail)

One unnamed “senior law enforcement official” says, “This is not a manpower issue. It’s an issue of getting the emails into a program that can allow agents to look at them.”

The FBI is under intense pressure to complete its review before the US presidential election on November 8, 2016, just over one week away. However, if previously unknown emails are discovered, it could take weeks or months for various government departments to confer and agree upon their classification status.

If more classified emails are found, that likely will not cause new legal difficulties for Clinton or Abedin, because many such emails already were found, but FBI Director James Comey said that he wouldn’t recommend any indictments without evidence of criminal intent.

The Times comments that “What could cause problems for Ms. Abedin — and by extension Mrs. Clinton — is if the FBI finds evidence that anyone tried to conceal these new emails from investigators. Ms. Abedin has said she turned over all her emails to the FBI months ago and does not know how emails ended up” on the computer owned by her estranged husband Anthony Weiner.
(The New York Times, 10/31/2016)

Comey reveals the Clinton email investigation is at least partially reopened due to the discovery of Huma Abedin emails in an unrelated case, shocking the US presidential race just 11 days before the election.

FBI Director James Comey sends a letter to eight Congressional committees, informing them that emails relevant to the Clinton email investigation have surfaced in another unrelated case, causing at least a partial reopening of the investigation. This is a major political shock and an unprecedented action, since it comes just 11 days before the US presidential election.

Huma Abedin and husband Anthony Weiner (Credit: Elinor Carucci / Vanity Fair)

Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner (Credit: Elinor Carucci / Vanity Fair)

Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s longtime close aides and her deputy chief of staff during her tenure as secretary of state, is married to Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic Congressperson. However, she is estranged from him and began divorce proceedings against him two months earlier, due to his repeated sex scandals. In his most recent scandal, it is alleged he sent illicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl. This led to an FBI investigation, and his computer and electronic devices were seized by the FBI on October 3, 2016. When his computer was examined, it was determined that it had been used by both Abedin and Weiner, and thousands of Abedin’s emails were found that could be relevant to the Clinton email investigation. That discovery in turn led to Comey being briefed on October 27, 2016, and then his surprise announcement one day later.

The New York Times reports calls Comey’s letter an “October surprise” that has “rocked” the 2016 presidential race. It has “left Mrs. Clinton’s team furious and scrambling for explanations while bolstering the spirits of Donald J. Trump after a wave of controversies and Republican defections had led many to write him off.”

Comey writes a very short letter that fails to mention many details. It states, in full: “In previous Congressional testimony, I referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.”

James Comey (Credit: public domain)

James Comey (Credit: public domain)

“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigation team briefed me on this yesterday, and 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 access their importance to our investigation.

“Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016) (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

Later the same day, Comey also sends a short letter to all FBI officials, explaining his decision to send the letter. It is immediately leaked to the public. In it, he says, “Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.  In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.” (The Washington Post, 10/28/2016)

The New York Times further reveals that Comey was only briefed about the emails the day before, and they have not yet been closely examined. “A senior law enforcement official said that tens of thousands of emails belonging to Ms. Abedin were on Mr. Weiner’s laptop…” However, “Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server.” It is also unknown how many could be duplicates of previously known emails. (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)

The Washington Post reports, “The correspondence included emails between Abedin and Clinton, according to a law enforcement official.” (The Washington Post, 10/28/2016)

The FBI seizes the electronic devices of Huma Abedin’s husband in a sex scandal case, which will lead to the reopening of the Clinton email investigation.

Anthony Weiner takes a selfie from his image in a mirror. (Credit: Daily Mail)

Anthony Weiner takes a selfie from his image in a mirror. (Credit: Daily Mail)

Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton and her former deputy chief of staff, is married to Anthony Weiner, a former Congressperson who has been beset by two “sexting” scandals, in which it was publicly revealed he sent sexual text messages to other women. On August 28, 2016, the New York Post reported that Weiner had been caught in his third sexting scandal. The next day, Abedin announced she is separating from him and divorcing him. (The New York Post, 8/28/2016)

On September 21, 2016, the Daily Mail further revealed that the still unnamed woman he’d been sexting with in recent months in fact was only 15 years old. (The Daily Mail, 9/21/2016)

This raised the possibility that Weiner could face serious federal criminal charges, especially if the girl lives in a different state, which it turns out she does. (Rolling Stone, 9/22/2016)

As a result, after the Daily Mail article, top federal prosecutors in New York (where Weiner lives) and North Carolina (where the unnamed girl lives) fought over who would get to prosecute the case. The Justice Department gave the case to Preet Bharara, a US attorney in New York.

The New York Times will later report that also in late September 2016, “agents in the FBI’s New York field office understood that the Weiner investigation could possibly turn up additional emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s private server, according to a senior federal law enforcement official.”

On the same day Anthony Weiner's electronic devices were seized, the Clinton campaign team are on their way to a rally in Akron, OH on October 3, 2016. (Credit: Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

On the same day Anthony Weiner’s electronic devices are seized, the Clinton campaign team are on their way to a rally in Akron, OH on October 3, 2016. (Credit: Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Then, on October 3, 2016, the FBI seizes several electronic devices owned by Weiner, including a computer laptop, his iPhone, and his iPad. Several days later, FBI agents also confiscate a Wi-Fi router that could identify any other devices that he had used. This is also according to an unnamed US law enforcement official.

When FBI agents search the seized devices, they find thousands of emails sent to or from Abedin on the laptop, because apparently it was used by both Abedin and Weiner before they separated. According to unnamed “senior law enforcement officials,” some of the emails are sent between Abedin and other Clinton aides. However, only FBI agents and Justice Department prosecutors directly involved in the Weiner investigation can look at the evidence, and those who took part in the Clinton email investigation, closed in July 2016, do not have the legal authority, at least not yet.

FBI Director James Comey will learn about the emails in mid-October 2016. He will be brief October 27, 2016, and he will write a letter to Congress the next day announcing that he is reopening the Clinton email investigation at least long enough to determine the possible relevance of the emails to the Clinton case. (The New York Times, 10/29/2016)

The FBI has recovered 5,600 of Clinton’s deleted emails, but only about 10 percent of those will be released before the presidential election.

US District Judge James Boasberg (Credit: public domain)

US District Judge James Boasberg (Credit: public domain)

US District Judge James Boasberg orders the State Department to finish publicly releasing about 1,000 pages of  Clinton’s emails recovered by the FBI by November 4, 2016, just four days before the US presidential election. When Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of emails in December 2014, that totaled 30,000 emails, so if the same ratio holds, that would mean between 500 and 600 emails. Due to an on-going Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Judicial Watch, the State Department will release 350 pages of emails by October 7, 350 pages by October 21, and another 350 by November 4. After that, it will produce 500 pages a month.

In late July 2016, the FBI gave the State Department 15,000 emails that had been recovered by the FBI out of Clinton’s 31,000 deleted. For the first time, it  is revealed that about 9,400 of these have been deemed purely personal by the department, which means they will not ever be publicly released. That means there are about 5,600 work-related emails to be reviewed and released. But roughly half of those may be largely duplicates of emails that have already been released. For instance, Clinton was often send emails to aides she wanted printed out for later reading, and would merely comment “Please print,” or she would forward an email to an aide without comment.

It is estimated only about 10 percent of the Clinton work-related emails recovered by the FBI will be made public before the election. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, complains, “The public deserves to know what is in those emails, well before November 8, and the State Department should not continue dragging its feet on producing them.” (The New York Times, 9/23/2016)

The FBI reveals more about the Clinton emails that are clearly marked classified.

In the FBI Clinton email investigation’s final report, released on this day, more is revealed about the three Clinton email chains containing at least one paragraph with the “(C)” marking. This indicates the presence of information classified at the “confidential” level.

The report adds that there actually were eight emails in the three email chains. “The emails contained no additional markings, such as a header or footer, indicating that they were classified.”

Kofi Anan (Credit: Jean-Marc Ferré / United Nations

Kofi Annan (Credit: Jean-Marc Ferré / United Nations

At least one email from two of the email chains have been publicly released. One was sent to Clinton by her aide Monica Hanley on April 8, 2012, regarding a phone call between Clinton and Malawi president Joyce Banda. The second email was sent to Clinton by Hanley on August 2, 2012, regarding a phone call between Clinton and United Nations/Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan. The FBI report indicates both email chains are currently unclassified.

The third email chain is more mysterious. The FBI report doesn’t mention when it was sent, or by whom, of what its contents are. However, the State Department “confirmed through the FOIA review process that [this chain] contains information which is currently classified at the ‘confidential ‘level.” This email has not been found in the over 30,000 work-related emails Clinton gave to the State Department, even though the “confidential” classification clearly indicates it is work-related.

Finally, the State Department hasn’t provided a determination if any of the three emails were classified at the time they were sent. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

The FBI says they recovered over 17,000 of Clinton’s missing emails, but it’s unclear how many of these are work-related.

In the FBI’s report on the Clinton email investigation, which is released on this day, it is revealed: “To date, the FBI has recovered from additional data sources and reviewed approximately 17,448 unique work-related and personal emails from Clinton’s tenure [as secretary of state] containing Clinton’s hdr22@clintonemail.com email address that were not provided by [Clinton’s law firm] Williams & Connolly as part of Clinton’s production to the FBI, including emails from January 23, 2009 through March 18, 2009.”

The report also mentions that at least some of the emails going back to the time from before March 2009, when Clinton’s first server was replaced by another one, were recovered from the first back-up of all the data on Clinton’s third server, made on June 29, 2013. That was shortly after this new server was turned on and all the data from the previous server was transferred to it.

Clinton has claimed that she kept 30,068 emails from when she was secretary of state, and deleted the other 31,830 as personal. The FBI claims they had trouble recovering all the deleted ones, because an employee of Platte River Networks, the company that managed Clinton’s servers from June 2013 onwards, used a computer program to wipe the server clean in March 2015. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

It isn’t clear how many of the 17,448 recovered emails come from the June 29, 2013 back-up and how many come from other sources, such as the inboxes of people who sent and received emails from Clinton, or FBI efforts to recover the wiped emails. The FBI also doesn’t mention how many of the recovered emails are work-related. It was reported on July 21, 2016 that the FBI gave about 14,900 of Clinton’s recovered emails to the State Department, and the department has promised to make all the work-related ones public. But it isn’t clear why the 17,448 and 14,900 numbers differ by about 2,500 emails.

The State Department says that around 30 Clinton emails discovered by the FBI could relate to Benghazi.

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US District Judge Amit Mehta (Credit: public domain)

US District Court Judge Amit Mehta is presiding over a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit initiated by Judicial Watch regarding the public release of information relating to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The FBI recently gave the State Department almost 15,000 previously unknown Clinton emails, so Mehta wants to know if any of them relate to Benghazi.

State Department spokesperson John Kirby says, “Using broad search terms, we have identified approximately 30 documents potentially responsive to a Benghazi-related request. At this time, we have not confirmed that the documents are, in fact, responsive, or whether they are duplicates of materials already provided to the department by former Secretary Clinton in December 2014.” The department says it will need until the end of September 2016 to review the 30 or so emails and redact any classified information in them.

However, Mehta doesn’t understand why it would take the department so long to process so few emails. He orders the department to return in a week to try to justify the processing time.

Starting in mid-2014, Clinton was specifically asked for all her emails related to Benghazi, months before she was asked for all her work-related emails in general. The Benghazi-related emails were the first of her emails to be released, in early 2015.

Jason Miller, senior communications adviser for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, says, “Clinton swore before a federal court and told the American people she handed over all of her work-related emails. If Clinton did not consider emails about something as important as Benghazi to be work-related, one has to wonder what is contained in the other emails she attempted to wipe from her server.” (The Hill, 8/30/2016)

It is alleged that Clinton’s lawyers used a computer program to make sure her deleted emails couldn’t be recovered.

Since late 2014, when Clinton and her lawyers deleted over 31,000 of Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state, it has been unclear if the emails were simply deleted or “wiped,” meaning deliberate steps were taken to make sure they couldn’t be recovered later.

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Trey Gowdy appears with Martha MacCallum on Fox News on August 25, 2016. (Credit: Fox News)

In an interview, Representative Trey Gowdy (R) says that, “[Clinton] and her lawyers [Cheryl Mills, David Kendall, and Heather Samuelson] had those emails deleted. And they didn’t just push the delete button; they had them deleted where even God can’t read them. They were using something called BleachBit. You don’t use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridemaids emails. When you’re using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.”

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BleachBit Logo (Credit: public domain)

BleachBit is computer software whose website advertises that it can “prevent recovery” of files. Politico notes that if Gowdy is correct, this would be “further proof that Clinton had something to hide in deleting personal emails from the private email system she used during her tenure as secretary of state.” It is not explained how Gowdy might know this, but his comments come only a few days after the FBI gave raw materials about their Clinton email investigation to Congress. (Politico, 8/25/2016)

Gowdy’s claim contradicts what FBI Director James Comey said on July 5, 2016 when he announced that he would not recommend charging Clinton with any crime. At that time, Comey stated, “we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many email users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted emails or emails were purged from the system when devices were changed.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

Within hours of Gowdy’s comments, BleachBit updates their website to say: “Last year when Clinton was asked about wiping her email server, she joked, ‘Like with a cloth or something?’ It turns out now that BleachBit was that cloth, according to remarks by Gowdy.” The website also notes, “As of the time of writing BleachBit has not been served a warrant or subpoena in relation to the investigation. … The cleaning process [of our program] is not reversible.” (BleachBit, 8/25/2016)

On September 2, 2016, the FBI’s final report on their Clinton email investigation will be released, and it will be revealed that BleachBit was used on Clinton’s server in late March 2015. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

The State Department is ordered to review nearly 15,000 Clinton emails for public release, but it is unclear how many of these are previously unreleased work-related emails.

During the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, the FBI found some of Clinton’s over 31,000 deleted emails from when she was secretary of state. At the conclusion of the investigation in July 2016, FBI Director James Comey said the FBI “discovered several thousand work-related emails,” but is it uncertain exactly how many of these emails were found, either work-related or personal. The FBI has given the State Department a CD containing the found emails, and the department has said it will publicly release all the work-related ones.

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US District Judge James Boasberg (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / National Law Review)

In a court hearing presided by US District Judge James Boasberg on this day, it is revealed that the CD contains around 14,900 emails. Boasberg orders the State Department to review the emails for public release in response to various Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits by Judicial Watch. However, it is still unclear if any of these are duplicates of the 30,000 Clinton emails already publicly released. Furthermore, it is unknown how many of the found deleted emails are personal and how many are work-related (aside from Comey’s vague “several thousand” emails comment).

In addtion, the FBI has given the State Department seven other CDs: one contains classified documents related to Clinton, another contains emails returned by Clinton, and the other five contain materials from other people that was retrieved by the FBI.

State Department spokesperson Mark Toner says, “We can confirm that the FBI material includes tens of thousands of non-record (meaning personal) and record materials that will have to be carefully appraised at State. State has not yet had the opportunity to complete a review of the documents to determine whether they are agency records or if they are duplicative of documents State has already produced through the Freedom of Information Act.”

Regarding the CD of Clinton emails, Toner says, “We still don’t have a full sense of how many of the 14,900 are new. Granted, that’s a healthy number there, so there’s likely to be quite a few.”

Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus comments, “The process for reviewing these emails needs to be expedited, public disclosure should begin before early voting starts, and the emails in question should be released in full before Election Day.” (Politico, 8/22/2016) (The Washington Post, 8/22/2016)

On September 23, 2016, it will be revealed that 5,600 of the 14,900 recovered emails are deemed work-related.

The State Department will release all of Clinton’s work-related emails recovered by the FBI.

In late 2014, Clinton sorted her emails into what she and her lawyers deemed work-related and personal, and then deleted over 31,000 of the “personal” emails. In the FBI investigation into her emails that concluded in July 2016, it was reported that “several thousand” of the personal emails were recovered or found through other people having copies, and many of these actually were work-related.

In a court filing, the State Department reveals that it is planning to release all of the emails it decides are work-related. The emails will be given to Judicial Watch, who have a number of on-going Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits related to Clinton’s emails. However, it is unknown just how many emails were recovered and how many of those are work-related. It also is unknown how soon they will be released. Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus urges the department to release the emails before the November 2016 presidential election. (The Hill, 8/16/2016)