FBI agents are rushing to analyze the contents of Huma Abedin’s emails, which were found on the laptop of her husband (disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner), in the course of his ongoing child pornography investigation. The FBI has said at least some of the emails passed through the unsecured server system of Hillary Clinton, Abedin’s boss. The New York Times reports that the FBI had to hold off from viewing the emails while figuring out how to do so legally.
The F.B.I. knew weeks ago that its investigation into whether Mr. Weiner sent illicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina had the potential to reignite the Clinton case. After agents seized Mr. Weiner’s laptop, phone and tablet on Oct. 3, they quickly learned the computer contained a trove of Ms. Abedin’s emails.
The assistant F.B.I. director in charge of the New York field office then notified the deputy director in Washington about the discovery, according to one senior law enforcement official. Agents in the Weiner case were not allowed to widely search Ms. Abedin’s emails, but were told to conduct a cursory review of the metadata — the “to” and “from” information on each message — to see if any of the emails could be relevant to the Clinton investigation.
Once it became clear that the emails were potentially significant, lawyers at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. conducted a legal analysis of how to proceed, officials said. Because Ms. Abedin’s emails were not directly related to the investigation of her husband, criminal agents could neither read the contents of the emails nor pass them to their colleagues in Washington.
Late last week, the authorities decided to seek a search warrant to examine the emails. Mr. Comey’s letter gave that effort a tremendous sense of urgency. Suddenly, a follow-up inquiry that was expected to take weeks or months now needed to be rushed before Election Day.