Anthony Weiner’s alleged sexting with a minor gave the FBI reason to seize his computer. Is it mere coincidence that the same computer crashed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign?
“Pop!” Goes the Weiner: Perfectly Timed To End Clinton’s Campaign
The timeline would be propitious for any Clinton opponent…
In July 2016 it seemed that Hillary Clinton’s email saga was over. FBI Director James Comey had just announced that she shouldn’t face criminal charges, that no “reasonable prosecutor” would pursue a case, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch concurred. Email faded into the background of mainstream political discourse… until autumn, when former congressman Anthony Weiner made headlines for lewd online behavior. Again.
Weiner already had several sexting scandals under his belt. Here’s a recap of the particular affair that undermined Clinton’s progress and thus helped secure the White House for Republicans:
- In January 2016 Anthony Weiner started an online sexual relationship with an apparently 15-year-old North Carolina girl. She initiated the relationship on Twitter. The relationship moved to other private apps for chatting and video. Weiner’s communications could be felonious under New York law and federal law.
- Weiner shared a computer with his wife Huma Abedin, who happened to be a top aide to Hillary Clinton. Thus when the FBI investigated Weiner in September 2016, it had reason to seize a computer connected with the presidential candidate.
- As the FBI investigated the Weiner/Abedin laptop, it reportedly found a new batch of Clinton emails by chance. Comey then made public on October 28 that a second Clinton investigation was underway based on newly discovered emails.
- On November 6 — just two days before Election Day — Comey essentially told America, “Nothing was found in Hillary’s emails. Proceed with your election.”
But of course America couldn’t proceed normally. Confidence in Clinton had been shaken. Two days after Comey’s announcement, FOX proudly proclaimed that 34% of voters in an ABC/Washington Post poll were less likely to vote for Clinton because of the second investigation. And as USA Today reported on November 6:
Clinton’s commanding 11-point lead after the final debate with Republican Donald Trump in Las Vegas has narrowed to four to five points nationally in the aftermath of Comey’s late October announcement. She’s seen Trump close in on her in states like New Hampshire and Michigan, where she’d once enjoyed a comfortable lead.
Two days later, Trump was elected.
It seems natural to wonder, did the second email investigation truly come about by chance?
Weiner Puzzle #1: Who Reported the Relationship?
The official story is that a British newspaper was aware of Anthony Weiner’s online behavior before the FBI had knowledge: The Daily Mail broke the Anthony Weiner story with its overseas journalist Alana Goodman on September 21, and law enforcement apparently launched an investigation the next day.
That chain of knowledge seems a bit odd. What would motivate someone to inform a foreign newspaper before US news or law enforcement? It might be relevant that the Mail pays for stories. It might be relevant that the Mail is in some ways The National Enquirer with a British accent, apparently content to profit from publishing less-than-accurate reports.
It seems plausible that the 15-year-old in the Weiner communications was a plant. Let’s not forget, Trump had Russian forces on his side — and they excel at identifying a person’s weaknesses to collect kompromat. Weiner’s sexting weakness was widely known: Already one scandal had resulted in his resignation from Congress in 2011, and others had destroyed his chance at a political comeback in 2013. Another online scandal convinced his wife to file for separation in August 2016.
And of course, it needn’t be Trump behind any entrapment of Weiner. Many Clinton opponents in January 2016 might be eager for a route to her emails, so certain they were that she had words to hide.
Knowing who tipped off The Daily Mail, we might better understand why Donald Trump wields White House power. We followed a few paths, and it’s left our minds spinning. But before sharing those notes, we pose a second question about the legality of this whole investigation.
Weiner Puzzle #2: Was the Clinton Email Probe Legal? Freedom of Information Act Lawyer “Appalled”
Many legal scholars would conclude that Puzzle #1 above is irrelevant. Regardless of what triggered the second investigation of Clinton’s emails, legally it shouldn’t have happened. That’s the hypothesis of E. Randol Schoenberg, a Los Angeles lawyer best known for recovering artwork stolen by the Nazi regime during the WWII Holocaust.
Schoenberg says that it’s critical to understand how the FBI got the second email search warrant approved by a judge. After all, law enforcement agents were required to show probable cause to believe that a crime had been committed… yet Hillary Clinton had already been investigated in-depth and been cleared, and nothing in the new emails appeared damning. As explained at Gothamist.com:
Schoenberg speculates that either conservative-leaning federal officials made a case as if Clinton was an organized crime boss, i.e. “She’s always up to no good, we’re just not sure what she’s doing,” which wouldn’t meet the bar of probable cause and could get the judge in trouble. On the flip-side, he said, it’s possible that someone acting as an informant or witness provided false information to the FBI, possibly for political purposes, which should prompt its own investigation, given that lying to federal agents is a crime.
On November 12, 2016 Schoenberg filed a Freedom of Information Act request for information to better understand Comey’s second investigation into Clinton’s emails. The request was fulfilled with names redacted. In a USA Today article on December 20, Schoenberg stated that the FBI warrant undermining Clinton’s campaign showed “nothing at all” to warrant the investigation. He added, “I am appalled.”
Here is the information Schoenberg received in response to his Freedom of Information Act request. Perusing the warrant we agree with Schoenberg’s initial hypothesis that “someone acting as an informant or witness provided false information to the FBI.”
The Watchdog Report: Smells Like A Witch Hunt
The new investigation into Clinton’s emails seems unjustified. Yet America’s knowledge of its existence tipped the election.
Who informed the British press? No “foreign undermining” was found on the Weiner/Abedin computer… so maybe it was a wholly domestic job. Maybe it was a 125-pound girl in North Carolina looking to make a profit. Maybe it was a 400-pound-guy in New Jersey.
What do you think? Drop us a line in the Comments section below.
Update: On September 20, 2017 the UK’s Daily Mail published images of the teen’s face with her father’s approval. On September 25, 2017 a judge sentenced Anthony Weiner in relation to the above case. The New York Post cheekily announced that Anthony Weiner would serve “hard time” — 21 months in prison — for his behavior with the teen on Skype.