One of the information issues with the IG report is that it’s written entirely from an insider’s perspective. Therefore without an understanding of how divisions within Main Justice related to the discussed activity within FBI main DC offices it can be very confusing to understand.
The ‘insider narration’ makes it difficult to see what happened with the Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner laptop; and how the Clinton emails were discovered. However, because the issue is so important the IG report spends three chapters on this time-frame between September 28th and October 29th, 2016; and ultimately the next day, Oct. 30th, when a search warrant was executed for the laptop content.
IG Horowitz takes this aspect of the investigation into granularity and nuance (Chapters 8, 9 and 10).
At the heart of the activity during this critical period is FBI lawyer #1 Tashina “Tash” Gauhar who was on a video conference call with the FBI New York Field Office (NYFO) as the discoveries of hundreds of thousands of Clinton emails were relayed internally to the Mid-Year-Event (MYE) team in DC on September 29th, 2016.
Almost a full month went by until October 27th, 2016, when the MYE team all gathered with James Comey to talk about the laptop issues and the emails. Within the IG review of this period, there is a bunch of ass-covering documentation that takes place in hindsight to the events. The IG is careful to point out each time his investigation is presented with documentary evidence that was clearly written long-after the events being questioned.
The central IG question is: why didn’t the FBI take immediate action to review 725,000 Clinton-centric emails on the Huma/Weiner laptop? Why did they wait a month before seeking a search warrant? Why were they doing nothing?
With these three basic questions Horowitz enters a matrix of FBI excuses, obtuse claims, he-said/she-said, and ultimately a bunch of statements by the MYE team that simply didn’t make a lick of sense. Or put more diplomatically in IG language: “we found most of the explanations offered for this delay to be unconvincing.” (pg. 324)
IG REPORT pg 324 – By no later than September 29, the FBI had learned virtually every fact that was cited by the FBI in late October as justification for obtaining the search warrant for the Weiner laptop, including that the laptop contained:
- Over 340,000 emails, some of which were from domains associated with Clinton, including state.gov, clintonfoundation.org, clintonemail.com, and hillaryclinton.com;
- Numerous emails between Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin;
- An unknown number of BlackBerry communications on the laptop, including one or more messages between Abedin and Clinton, indicating the possibility that the laptop contained communications from the early months of Clinton’s tenure;178 and
- Emails dated beginning in 2007 and covering the entire period of Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State
The IG boiled down the FBI team excuses into four categories.
The explanations given to the OIG for the FBI’s failure to take immediate action on the Weiner laptop fell into four general categories:
1. The FBI Midyear team was waiting for additional information about the contents of the laptop from NYO, which was not provided until late October.
2. The FBI Midyear team could not review the emails without additional legal authority, such as consent or a new search warrant.
3. The FBI Midyear team and senior FBI officials did not believe that the information on the laptop was likely to be significant.
4. Key members of the FBI Midyear team had been reassigned to the investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election, which was a higher priority.
The IG walks through each of the four points, and identifies why each of them makes absolutely no sense against events that were taking place at the time. Ending with this summation:
Page #330: In sum, we concluded that the explanations given for the failure of the FBI to take action on the Weiner laptop between September 29 and the end of October were unpersuasive.
The FBI had all the information it needed on September 29 to obtain the search warrant that it did not seek until more than a month later. The FBI’s neglect had potentially far-reaching consequences. Comey told the OIG that, had he known about the laptop in the beginning of October and thought the email review could have been completed before the election, it may have affected his decision to notify Congress. Comey told the OIG, “I don’t know [if] it would have put us in a different place, but I would have wanted to have the opportunity.”
And then the IG gets to the heart of the matter:
Page #331: We found that what changed between September 29 and October 27 that finally prompted the FBI to take action was not new information about what was on the Weiner laptop but rather the inquiries from the SDNY prosecutors and then from the Department [Main Justice]. The only thing of significance that had changed was the calendar and the fact that people outside of the FBI were inquiring about the status of the Weiner laptop.
And right there, this becomes a great example why we see so much criticism of the IG report. The report clearly says why the excuses make no sense and were false. The IG report also clearly says what is most likely the real reason for the re-opening of the investigation. Both good points.
However, what is missing from the report is an explanation for: ‘why the FBI didn’t initiate the review’?
The IG gives a reason for the excuses not to be believed; gives a reason for the FBI finally taking action; but it never gives the reason why the Clinton email review was not undertaken….. the report leaves the actual biggest point as a dangling question.
Every intellectually honest person reading knows the MYE team didn’t investigate the laptop because they didn’t want to re-open the investigation; and the FBI team (Via McCabe, Page, Strzok and Tashina Gauhar) figured it could simply be avoided. However, the IG cannot prove that, because the participants deny it. So the IG can only disprove the FBI assertions and excuses…. and he did. But that leaves the FBI getting away with the corrupt part of it…. and leaves all of us frustrated, again.
It’s October 27th, 2016, the day before James Comey announces his FBI decision to re-open the Clinton investigation. Jim Rybicki still saying McCabe should be recused from input; everyone else, including FBI Legal Counsel James Baker, is disagreeing with Rybicki and siding with Lisa Page.
Meanwhile the conversation has shifted slightly to “PC”, probable cause. Read:
While Lisa Page is leaking stories to Devlin Barrett (Wall Street Journal), the internal discussion amid the “small group” is about probable cause to gain a search warrant.
The team is now saying if there is no probable cause to gain a search warrant, then there’s no reason to tell anyone about the laptop emails. Comey closed the original email investigation in July 2016 (remember the very tight boundaries of review). No probable cause in October 2016 to get a search warrant means no need to announce opening the investigation regardless of what the email content might be.
This appears to be how the MYE “small group” or “tight team” justify doing nothing with the content received from New York. They received notification of the emails September 28th and it’s now October 27th, and they haven’t taken any action to review. Heck, they are debating if there’s even a need to look at the laptop.
Then on October 28th, 2016, the FBI and Main Justice officials have a conference call about the entire Huma Abedin/Hillary Clinton email issue. Here’s where it gets interesting.
George Toscas and David Laufman from DOJ-NSD articulate a position that something needs to happen likely because Main Justice is concerned about the issue of FBI (McCabe) sitting on the emails for over three weeks without any feedback to SDNY (New York).
Thanks to Deputy Director McCabe, Main Justice in DC, specifically DOJ National Security Division, now looks like they are facilitating a cover-up operation being conducted by the FBI “small group”. [which is actually true, but they can’t let that be so glaringly obvious].
As a result of the Top-Tier officials conference call, Strzok is grumpy agent because his opinion appears to be insignificant. The decision is reached to announce the re-opening of the investigation. This sends Lisa Page bananas…
…In rapid response mode Lisa Page reaches out to Devlin Barrett, again to quickly shape the media coverage. Now that the world is aware of the need for a Clinton email investigation 2.0 the internal conversation returns to McCabe’s recusal.
Please note that at no time in the FBI is anyone directing an actual investigation of the content of the Clinton emails. Every single second of every effort is devoted to shaping the public perception of the need for the investigation. Every media outlet is being watched; every article is being read; and the entire apparatus of the small group is shaping coverage therein by contacting their leak outlets.