The FBI examined only a tiny fraction of hundreds of thousands of Hillary Clinton emails discovered six weeks before the 2016 presidential election on a laptop used by Anthony Weiner, husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Here is a timeline.
March 2015 – The New York Times reports that Hillary Clinton used a private email server located in her basement to conduct all her State Department business as Secretary of State (2009-2013). Her team turns over some 30,000 emails deemed work-related, but deleted 33,000 emails they considered personal.
July 2015 – The intelligence community refers a criminal case on Clinton’s mishandling of classified information to the FBI.
July 5, 2016 – One year later, FBI Director James B. Comey announces the closing of that case. Although the bureau determined that Clinton and her aides had routinely sent classified material over her unauthorized network, he said he could not "find a case that would support bringing criminal charges."
Sept. 26 – New York FBI agents investigating sex crimes allegations against Weiner discover “a large volume of emails,” including long-sought BlackBerry messages, related to Clinton on a laptop used by Abedin and her husband. The number of potentially relevant emails would total 694,000 – or more than 10 times the number that were thought to have existed in the initial Clinton probe.
Sept. 27 – Bill Sweeney, agent in charge of the FBI’s New York office, is alerted to newly discovered Clinton emails.
Sept. 28 – The New York office notifies Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, and other officials at FBI headquarters about the discovery.
Oct. 25 – FBI counsel Lisa Page tells FBI agent Peter Strzok – who led the Clinton email investigation and was recently fired, in part, for expressing anti-Trump bias – that she is hearing that Congress will have to be told about the emails.
Oct. 26 – Attorney General Loretta Lynch warns McCabe and Sweeney to fix leaks out of the New York office.
Oct. 28 – Comey informs Congress that the FBI was taking additional “investigative steps” in the Clinton email investigation.
Oct. 30 – A search warrant application is filed in New York that would allow agents to read the emails on the laptop. Edited by Strzok from his home email account, the warrant is quite narrow in scope, excluding: Clinton emails from before and after her tenure at the State Department; all of Abedin’s Yahoo! emails, which she also used for government business; and the all-important BlackBerry messages covering the first two months of Clinton’s term in office, when she was setting up the unauthorized server with Abedin.
Oct. 31 – Lynch tells Comey to process the Weiner laptop “as fast as you can.” Comey testifies and later writes in his memoir that agents initially said they could not review the vast cache of emails before the Nov. 8 election. Then a “great breakthrough” occurs, he writes, allowing them to use computers to eliminate a large number of emails as "duplicates." But in fact, the effort was thwarted by a technical glitch.
Nov. 2 – Strzok texts Page: “We’re going to make sure the right thing is done,” adding, “It’s gonna be ok.”
Early November – In a matter of days, the FBI reduces what it says are the number of potentially new and relevant emails from 694,000 to 6,827. FBI lawyer Sally Moyer then excludes all material deemed personal in nature or outside the scope of legal agreements – leaving a total of 3,077 emails to be reviewed.
Nov. 4 – Strzok texts Page about “drafting” a statement regarding the emails.
Nov. 5 – Moyer, Strzok and a third investigator divide up the remaining pool of 3,077 emails — roughly 1,000 emails each — presumably reviewing them for classified information and incriminating evidence. They complete the work in under 12 hours.
Nov. 6 – Comey sends an official letter to Congress stating that despite the Weiner laptop emails, the FBI has “not changed our conclusion” regarding Clinton. Page and Strzok exchange text messages. “Out on CNN now … And fox … I WANT TO WATCH THIS WITH YOU!” Strzok writes Page. “Going to pour myself a glass of wine … .” Page texts. “Trump is talking about [Clinton]” on Fox News, and how “she’s protected by a rigged system.”
Nov. 8 – Trump wins the presidency in major upset, causing Strzok to feel “extremely depressed.”