What Will The Huma Abedin Warrant Get The FBI? Emails Concerning Hillary Clinton Are Of Interest
On Sunday evening, the United States Department of Justice announced it received a warrant to investigate the emails of Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton's top aids. The warrant comes on the heels of FBI Director James Comey's controversial announcement that the FBI would be re-opening its investigation into emails sent to and from Clinton's private email server while she was secretary of state; the director indicated that the decision to re-open the investigation resulted after agents investigating an unrelated case involving Abedin's estranged husband Anthony Weiner reportedly located thousands of emails between Clinton and Abedin in the metadata of Weiner's laptop.
The newly-acquired Department of Justice warrant allows the FBI to look into the contents of these emails to examine whether or not material contained in them is classified, as the Bureau did in its previous email investigation. Even though they already possessed Weiner's laptop, FBI agents were required to obtain a separate warrant to investigate the content of Abedin's emails. The original warrant obtained for Weiner's laptop only allowed for examination of content related to his alleged messages with a teenage girl. For the record, Weiner has firmly denied exchanging any inappropriate messages with minors.
Thus, the warrant allows FBI agents to begin implementing the investigation that Comey announced on Friday. Now, agents will begin going through the Abedin's hundreds of thousands emails that are present on Weiner's computer. However, it is important to note that the FBI only has probable cause to search the emails relevant to the Clinton investigation, meaning the actual number of emails whose content will be searched is likely closer to a few thousand. Furthermore, while there could certainly be new information contained in these emails, it is also possible that any emails sent to and from Clinton's private server have already been seen by the FBI during its previous email investigation.
The FBI has indicated that, due to the impending election, they are working at an unprecedented pace to review all relevant emails in an attempt to finish the investigation prior to Election Day. During their review, the FBI will examine relevant emails "to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to [the FBI's] investigation."However, the New York Times reports that, over the weekend, several federal law enforcement officials anonymously stated that there was "no chance the email review could be completed before Election Day," due to the highly compressed time period.
While the Department of Justice warrant allows the FBI to re-open the Clinton email investigation and conduct related business, there still are a lot of unanswered questions about how the investigation will proceed and how long it will take. In a recent letter, some Senate Democrats expressed frustration with the FBI's lack of forthcoming information regarding these issues. They indicated that by Monday they wish to have "more detailed information about the investigative steps that are being taken, the number of emails involved, and what is being done to determine how many of the emails are duplicative of those already reviewed by the FBI."
Overall, it seems that everyone — Congress, the Clinton campaign, the Trump campaign, and presumably voters — desire more information about the FBI's investigation, considering the Bureau made a very pointed announcement about the decision to re-open it. While the warrant will allow the FBI to begin acquiring some of this desired information, the timeline and transparency of the investigative process remains to be seen.