The Department of State has released 2,800 emails and documents that the FBI found on disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop, the former husband of Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin. Some of the emails that were released on Friday contained classified information and were stored on the unsecure laptop in an apparent violation of federal statute. Five classified emails were found that discussed delicate negotiations with leaders in the Middle East, including those from the Hamas terrorist organization, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
However, neither Huma Abedin nor Hillary Clinton have faced prosecution so far.
In early November, President Donald Trump expressed frustration that the Justice Department has yet to move on prosecution. He told WBAL radio host Larry O’Connor, “The saddest thing is because I'm the president of the United States, I'm not supposed to be involved in the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved in the FBI. I'm not supposed to be doing the kinds of things I would love to be doing and I'm very frustrated by it. I look at what's going on with the Justice Department. Well, why aren't they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and dossier?” The “dossier” was an assembly of uncorroborated and salacious material gathered by a former British spy at the behest of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign in 2016. Members of Congress are seeking to know whether that dossier was used by the Obama administration to get permission to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign.
According to 18 U.S. Code § 1924: “Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material,” any “officer, employee, contractor, or consultant of the United States, and, by virtue of his office, employment, position, or contract, becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.”
Deep State ties
In 2016, FBI Peter Strzok interviewed Abedin -- who served Clinton at the State Department -- during an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server for official classified communications. According to The Daily Caller, Abedin told Strzok that she was not aware of Clinton’s use of the private email server until 2013. However, that denial appears to be contradicted by emails exchanged with another Clinton aide -- Cheryl Mills -- in which the two discussed the private unsecured server. For example, in 2010, Mills asks Abedin and another aide if the “server [is] ok?” after there was an apparent server malfunction. They also received an August 2011 email in which a State Department official told them that Clinton’s “email server is down.”
Peter Strzok came under fire late this year after it was revealed that he had engaged in anti-Trump diatribes with a fellow FBI official who was attached to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Strzok was later removed from the team of investigators by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is leading the probe into supposed collusion between Russians and the Trump political organization.
The most recent tranche of emails were released following a Freedom of Information Act request filed earlier this year by Judicial Watch. Hundreds of pages of emails and documents were released on Friday by the State Department, including eight pages bearing the “confidential” classification. This is the third most sensitive level of government document classification. Confidential classification is given to documents and information whose disclosure to unauthorized persons can “reasonably could be expected to cause damage to national security.”
Entire pages, as well as names, were blotted out before release. Three of the emails were sent to or from an email titled “BBB Backup”, which one email identifies tentatively as a backup of a Blackberry Bold 9700 belonging to Clinton aide Abedin. The material redacted from the released emails is information that presumably is not to be handled by any authorized persons and has thus been kept from the eyes of the public.
Sensitive discussions stored on unsecure computer
There are pages that mention updates and guidance for phone calls with Israel premier Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the Hamas terrorist organization and the Palestinian Authority. Another offers guidance on issues for Clinton to address during a call with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who served until 2015.
The call with the Saudi foreign minister was related to the publication of classified information by the WikiLeaks organization. The guidance read, ironically: “This appears to be the result of an illegal act in which a fully cleared intelligence officer stole information and gave it to a website. The person responsible will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” It warned that the leaks would contain, “details of private conversations with your government on Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.”
The laptop on which the emails were found belonged to former congressman Anthony Weiner, who resigned in 2011 in the wake of a sexting scandal. He was not authorized to have the classified emails on his device or read them without a security clearance. While it is not clear whether Weiner had a security clearance while serving in Congress, he did not serve on any House committees that would require such a clearance.
'Extremely careless' but not criminal
After an FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server in 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey said during the midst of the presidential campaign that while the former secretary of state was “careless” with classified materials, he did not find her in violation of the law.
Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch released a statement on Friday in which he said he was not surprised by the revelation. “As we expected, there is classified information on Anthony Weiner’s laptop – thanks to Hillary Clinton’s illicit email games.” Fitton said, “The Justice Department should launch an immediate criminal investigation.” On Thursday, Fitton asked whether DOJ under Attorney General Jeff Sessions will “finally take action on Clinton/Abedin misdeeds.” The FOIA request was filed by Judicial Watch in May 2015, before Donald Trump announced his candidacy.
“This is a disturbing development,” Fitton said in September after the State Department showed how many classified emails and documents were found on Weiner’s laptop.
In July 2016, then FBI Director James Comey told a press conference that the FBI would not recommend charges against Clinton for mishandling classified information. While he admitted that Clinton had been “extremely careless,” he said that no “reasonable prosecutor” would charge her. In October 2016, Comey wrote a letter to members of Congress to tell them that new emails had been found on Weiner’s computer, thus causing a crisis in the Clinton campaign. However, days after Comey’s letter was made public, the FBI announced that it had found nothing new and the the case against Clinton had been closed again.