The search warrant that spurred the FBI to renew its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server days before the 2016 presidential election was unsealed on 20 December 2016.
The document, which was made available by order of U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel, shows that the bureau received approval from another judge, Kevin Fox, on 30 October 2016 to search a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), the husband of Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to former Hillary Clinton. Weiner was the subject of a separate investigation for allegedly exchanging lewd texts with a teenaged girl.
The warrant was issued two days after FBI director James Comey informed Congress in a letter that his agency was reviewing new evidence in its investigation of Clinton’s private e-mail server use. Comey had stated on 5 July 2016 that “no charges [were] appropriate” in the matter.
Investigators felt at the time they requested the warrant that there was probable cause to believe that the laptop contained “thousands” of e-mails exchanged between the Democratic presidential nominee and someone else of interest (whose name was redacted).
The day before the 8 November 2016 election, Comey said that after examining the laptop, his agency saw no reason to change its assessment that Clinton should not be charged with a crime. However, Comey’s actions were criticized at the time by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
The warrant was unsealed at the request of E. Randol Schoenberg, a California-based attorney who specializes in cases regarding the recovery of works of art, with an emphasis on retrieving artworks stolen by the Nazis.