Timeline: How Anthony Weiner's sexting reportedly led to new Clinton email questions
The bizarre and convoluted path to the latest twist in the saga surrounding Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state began five years ago with the resignation of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner, the husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Weiner’s sexting has long been a source of embarrassment for his family, but last week, it developed into an obstacle that Clinton’s presidential campaign might not be able to overcome.
FBI Director James Comey alerted members of Congress Friday that evidence uncovered during an investigation of Weiner for sexting with a teenage girl has prompted a new look at Clinton’s emails. While many questions remain unanswered, this is what we know about how we got here:
May 20, 2016
“Weiner,” a documentary following Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin through his failed 2013 campaign for mayor of New York City, was released in theaters. It recounts the sexting scandal that torpedoed his congressional career in 2011 and the second sexting scandal that derailed his mayoral campaign.
August 28, 2016
Weiner reemerged in the news when the New York Post printed photos of him sexting in bed with his toddler son lying next to him. The woman he was communicating with was an adult Trump supporter.
The incident led Abedin to announce the couple was separating and sparked an investigation of Weiner’s parenting by the New York City Administration for Children’s Services.
September 21, 2016
DailyMail.com reported that a 15-year-old girl claims she has been having an online sexual relationship with Weiner since January. According to the article, text messages indicate Weiner knew she was underage.
Weiner did not deny having flirtatious conversations with the girl, who said he urged her to dress up in school girl outfits and engage in rape fantasies.
'While I have provided the Daily Mail with information showing that I have likely been the subject of a hoax,” Weiner said in a statement at the time. “I have no one to blame but me for putting myself in this position.”
Early October 2016
According to the Wall Street Journal, New York FBI agents investigating Weiner’s communications with the underage girl seized electronic devices looking for child pornography, including a laptop that was apparently used by both Weiner and Abedin.
They found metadata indicating that some of 650,000 emails on the computer came from Abedin’s accounts and could potentially have been connected to Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
October 27, 2016
After investigators working on the Weiner case and those involved in the Clinton email probe determined there may be relevant evidence on the laptop, FBI Director James Comey was briefed on the matter Thursday. Investigators had not yet obtained a warrant to review the emails themselves.
October 28, 2016
Reportedly because he believed he was obligated to inform Congress of any new developments and he feared agents would leak information to the press if he did not go public, Comey sent a letter to Republican congressional committee chairs and top ranking Democrats. The letter vaguely referred to emails recovered in an unrelated investigation that could be pertinent to the Clinton case, but it immediately set off speculation in the press and on the campaign trail.
By day’s end, unnamed FBI sources had leaked to the press that the unrelated investigation was the Weiner case and that thousands of potentially relevant emails may have been recovered from a laptop used by Abedin.
Hillary Clinton briefly addressed the issue on Friday night, telling reporters the announcement was surprising and urging Comey to clarify his statement and release more details.
Also on Friday, Comey sent a letter to FBI staff explaining and defending his decision to inform Congress of the new information despite the proximity to the election and the impact it could have.
October 29, 2016
The Clinton campaign stepped up its demands for Comey to release more information about the investigation and the evidence that had been found. News reports revealed further details of the internal tensions at the FBI and the Department of Justice over Comey’s actions.
October 30, 2016
The FBI reportedly obtained a warrant to view the emails on the computer. Former Attorney General Eric Holder and about 100 other former FBI and DOJ officials from Democratic and Republican administrations signed a letter criticizing Comey for defying agency protocol by announcing new investigative action days before an election.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sent Comey a letter alleging that he may have violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political campaign activities.