There are many reasons why Hillary Clinton lost the election. Bad campaign choices, voter suppression, and Russian-hacked Democratic Party emails all had an additive effect. But the best data shows that FBI Director James Comey swung the election hardest in the critical early-voting period — and now that lawyers have seen the actual warrant involved, that unusual public spectacle appears to have been a purely political act.
Comey first chose to set aside normal FBI protocol in July, when he announced that the investigation of Clinton’s private email server from her time as Secretary of State was closed. Rather than simply decline to prosecute, Comey held a press conference to excoriate Clinton.
Matters became more partisan in October as Comey told Republican congressional leaders that new emails between Clinton and her aide, Huma Abedin, had been discovered on a laptop belonging to Abedin’s estranged husband, disgraced congressman Anthony Wiener. Once shared with the press, the story was an instant sensation, driving Clinton’s poll numbers down at a crucial time.
Yet no warrant was sought until the following Monday, and Comey quietly announced two days before the election that nothing important had been discovered, after all.
Los Angeles attorney Randy Schoenberg. who succeeded in unsealing the warrant today, finds the lack of specific detail disturbing.
“I see nothing at all in the search warrant application that would give rise to probable cause, nothing that would make anyone suspect that there was anything on the laptop beyond what the FBI had already searched and determined not to be evidence of a crime, nothing to suggest that there would be anything other than routine correspondence between” Clinton and Abedin, Schoenberg said in an email to USA TODAY. It remains unknown “why they thought they might find evidence of a crime, why they felt it necessary to inform Congress, and why they even sought this search warrant,” he said. “I am appalled.” The FBI’s Manhattan office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Schoenberg is hardly alone. “The warrant application seems to reflect a belief that any email sent by Hillary Clinton from a private email server is probably evidence of a crime,” Katkin tells the Huffington Post. “If so, then it must be seen as a partisan political act, rather than a legitimate law enforcement action.”
Clark Cunningham, the W. Lee Burge chair in law and ethics at Georgia State University, said the “warrant violates” the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.
“The heart of the warrant application is para 26 on [page] 10, which is nothing more than mere speculation that there is classified info on the laptop,” Cunningham said in an email, “unless probable cause is based on redacted sentences, which seems unlikely.”
In other words, the warrant was a fishing expedition that probably violated the Fourth Amendment. Comey’s actions probably violated the Hatch Act, and it is long past time we stopped giving James Comey or the FBI’s New York office any benefit of the doubt. If they had half the honor and integrity being ascribed to them, there would not be such a stark contrast between this dubious warrant and Comey’s virtual silence on Russian hacking during the election.Click here for reuse options!
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