Insider details could prove suspicions that conservatives — including President Donald Trump — have expressed about partisan bias within the inner workings of James Comey’s FBI amid the 2016 presidential election.
Last week, The Washington Post shared an excerpt from reporter Devlin Barrett’s recently published book, “October Surprise: How the FBI Tried to Save Itself and Crashed an Election,” detailing special agent John Robertson’s account of investigating Anthony Weiner’s laptop.
Robertson was the agent who in September 2016 discovered “hundreds of thousands of Abedin’s emails” on Weiner’s laptop, according to the book excerpt, “including many that were to or from Clinton.” At the time, Weiner was the estranged husband of Abedin, who was one of Clinton’s top aides.
This, of course, was well beyond the 30,000 emails which Comey, in a July 2016 news conference, said Clinton had provided to the State Department and which the FBI investigated in relation to its probe of her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
Yet in response, Robertson’s superior reportedly told him to scrub his computer.
In late September, Robertson was investigating Weiner’s communications with a 15-year-old girl when he stumbled upon emails between Abedin and Clinton.
Now, we all should remember the shocking conclusion Comey came to during his news conference that summer regarding the investigation into Clinton’s private email server and the transfer of classified information over that server.
“As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case,” Comey said at the time, according to an FBI transcript of his remarks.
Robertson knew the gravity of what he found, and flagged the emails to his supervisors, according to the book.
When nothing happened, he reportedly paid a visit to Amanda Kramer, one of the prosecutors on the Weiner case.
“When he got to Kramer’s office on Oct. 19, she asked him, ‘What’s up?’ Sitting in a chair, Robertson exhaled deeply and began talking, his knee pumping much of the time. He had told his bosses about the Clinton emails weeks ago. Nothing had happened,” Barrett writes.
“Or rather, the only thing that had happened was his boss had instructed Robertson to erase his computer work station. Ostensibly, that was to ensure there was no classified material on it. But it also meant there was no record of what Robertson had done, or had not done, with the laptop information.”
On top of that, Kramer and fellow prosecutor Stephanie Lake reportedly told Robertson that if he shared the emails with any outsiders, he could face criminal consequences.
“The prosecutors, Kramer and Lake, thought Robertson was getting paranoid. They also gave him a blunt warning: If Robertson decided to tell outsiders about the emails, he could be prosecuted,” according to the book. “The legal rationale behind such a scenario is faulty at best — the fact of the emails’ existence on the laptop was not classified. If Robertson had decided to tell a lawmaker or a reporter about them, that could be a fireable offense, but probably not a criminal one.”
Of course, if 30,000 emails were worth investigating, then surely hundreds of thousands would be.
According to Barrett, it was “despite Robertson’s doubts, or perhaps because of them,” that the information finally reached Comey.
In late October, Comey notified Congress that Clinton’s case had been reopened, though he received much scrutiny for making such an announcement so close to Election Day.
Barrett’s reporting is obviously a terrible look for Comey’s FBI.
The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn’t they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe’s $700,000 & more?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2018
Trump has long been claiming that the intelligence community, especially the FBI, was biased against him during the 2016 campaign.
This report — particularly the allegation Robertson’s boss had him scrub his work station after the agent found hundreds of thousands of Abedin’s emails — certainly doesn’t help the FBI’s defense.
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