Justice Department and FBI officials are working to secure approval that would allow the FBI to conduct a full search of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedein’s newly discovered emails, sources familiar with the discussions told CNN.
Government lawyers haven’t yet approached Abedin’s lawyers to seek an agreement to conduct the search. Sources earlier told CNN that those discussions had begun, but the law enforcement officials now say they have not.
Either way, government lawyers plan to seek a search warrant from a judge to conduct the search of the computer, the law enforcement officials said.
The issue is complicated because the computer is considered to belong to Anthony Weiner, her estranged husband, and the case may raise spousal privilege legal protections for Abedin.
Government lawyers hope to secure the warrant to permit investigators to review thousands of emails on a computer Abedin shared with Weiner, officials said.
The new search warrant is needed because the existing authorization, covered by a subpoena, related only to the ongoing investigation of Weiner, who is accused of having sexually explicit communications with an underage girl.
Investigators from the FBI’s New York field office who are conducting the Weiner investigation stumbled on the Abedin emails while they were reviewing emails and other communications on the computer, which was considered to belong to Weiner, the officials said. They stopped their work and called in the team of investigators from FBI headquarters who conducted the probe of Clinton’s private email server.
Abedin’s lawyers didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The investigators saw enough of the emails to determine that they appeared pertinent to the previously completed investigation and that they may be emails not previously reviewed.
Because they don’t have a warrant specific to Abedin’s emails, officials have not been able to further examine them. Justice Department and FBI officials view Abedin as cooperative with the investigation.
FBI officials yet don’t know how many of the emails are duplicates of emails they already have reviewed as part of the Clinton email server investigation and whether any of them may contain classified information.
Investigators believe it’s likely the newly recovered trove will include emails that were deleted from the Clinton server before the FBI took possession of it as part of that earlier investigation.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that talks between the Department of Justice and Abedin’s lawyers were underway. They are not.