Federal judge wants to see Clinton emails search warrant

James Comey
AP Photo

NEW YORK — A federal judge directed the U.S. government Tuesday to show him any search warrant application used to gain access to a new batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails just before the election.

Judge P. Kevin Castel asked a government lawyer to turn over any pertinent documents by late Thursday in case he decides any portion of the materials must be made public. He also recommended the government advise what redactions are necessary should he rule that portions of documents must be disclosed publicly.

E. Randol Schoenberg, a Los Angeles-based lawyer who specializes in recovering works of art stolen by the Nazis, sued to obtain any search warrant and related papers used by the FBI to obtain the emails from a computer belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s top aides. Schoenberg’s lawsuit followed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents.

Weiner, a Democrat, resigned his seat in Congress after sexually explicit texts and social media posts to various women. He is under investigation by federal authorities for online communications he had with a 15-year-old girl.

Justice Department lawyer Jennie Kneedler told Castel that the government opposes Schoenberg’s request and noted that Schoenberg had not demonstrated that a need for secrecy that existed before was no longer relevant. She said the government wants to show why the unrelated ongoing criminal investigation is relevant to whether the public has a right to access any search warrant application materials related to Clinton.

“There are things we would like to make your honor aware of,” Kneedler said.

The judge said the case is different, in part, because FBI Director James Comey announced Oct. 28 that the FBI had learned about the emails and that they appeared relevant to its already-completed investigation of Clinton’s personal email server. He noted that Comey two days before the election updated Congress by saying the FBI’s review of the new emails had not changed its conclusions that she should not face charges.

Castel said he plans to rule quickly. He rejected a government request to delay its submission of materials by a day. He also told Schoenberg’s lawyer to notify attorneys for Clinton, Abedin and Weiner about the request to make documents public.

Since losing to Republican President-elect Donald Trump, Clinton has blamed her loss in the presidential election in part on the FBI’s decision to revive its examination of her email accounts after Comey in July chastised Clinton for her use of a private mail server but said the bureau would not recommend criminal charges.

Schoenberg’s lawsuit called any search warrant and related materials “of the utmost public importance.”

It added: “Transparency and accountability are most important in cases such as this one, where the investigation in question is heavily politicized, dominated and continues to dominate national media and the national sphere of conversation, and may have significantly influenced the outcome of the election.”

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