Unsealed warrant for Weiner emails has law experts divided, Clinton spox doing ‘I told you so’ dance

The release on Tuesday of search warrant documents filed by the FBI in Hillary Clinton’s email case raised new questions and renewed criticism of the agency.

The documents which were issued to access a computer used by ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife, Huma Abedin, were unsealed by a federal court on Tuesday providing the first look at information that caused the agency to revisit the case just 11 days before the election, Fox News reported.

U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel ordered the release on Monday, saying that the public had a right to know the details.

Former Clinton campaign spokesman, Brian Fallon, blasted the FBI warrant as “flimsy” and “utterly unjustified” in a series of tweets. He also demanded an account for actions by FBI Director James Comey whom many Clinton supporters have blamed for costing her the election.

The unsealed government affidavit, though heavily redacted, revealed that investigators wanted to see what was on the laptop computer after the earlier FBI investigation revealed emails exchanged between Clinton and Abedin contained classified information.

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Agents discovered the laptop and the emails connected to Clinton while investigating an unrelated case involving Weiner allegedly sexting with an underage girl. The email searches in the late October reopening of the case turned up no new evidence that would  cause FBI Director James Comey to change his conclusion that Clinton face no criminal charges.

Legal experts are divided over whether the warrant issued days before the election was justified.

“It was a fishing expedition,” Clark D. Cunningham, Professor of Law and Ethics at Georgia State University told LawNewz.com, “There is nothing that comes close to probable cause that I can see. (The warrant application) is no more than mere speculation.”

Kenneth Katkin, Law Professor, Northern Kentucky University, found the warrant application to be “meritless.”

“The government never had any knowledge or information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime had been committed. Indeed, FBI Director Comey had already publicly announced this fact over the summer,” Katkin said, according to LawNews.

California attorney Randol Schoenberg saw “nothing at all” in the search warrant that would prompt probable cause and questioned “why they thought they might find evidence of a crime, why they felt it necessary to inform Congress, and why they even sought this search warrant.”

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But Bill Thomas, a former federal prosecutor, had a different opinion.

“I have done hundreds of search warrants —- the FBI was on solid ground on this one. It is important to remember that probable cause is a relatively low burden,” he told LawNewz.

Release of the documents may end up prompting more questions than providing closure. As debates continue about whether the FBI crossed the line and violated the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure, Clinton supporters may find more ammunition in their long-standing claim that the timing of the warrant and searches were partly to blame for the election loss.

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Frieda Powers

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