How the Latest FBI Hillary Clinton Email Server Investigation Unfolded

A review of what happened when.

ByABC News
October 31, 2016, 3:54 PM

— -- Though the saga of Hillary Clinton’s private email server started years ago when she was secretary of state, the latest twist in the saga on Friday sent shockwaves through the political sphere.

Since then, there has been a scramble to determine who knows what and when they knew.

Here is a rundown of what has happened and when the chain of events started.

Weeks Ago

Federal authorities looking into a case involving former Rep. Anthony Weiner first discovered the emails potentially related to the Clinton probe weeks ago, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the matter. The process that followed was a complicated one, with lots of back and forth over how to handle the situation and whether the FBI needed to get a warrant in order to review the newly-discovered emails.

PHOTO: Then-New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner speaks during a news conference alongside his wife Huma Abedin in New York, July 23, 2013.
Then-New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner speaks during a news conference alongside his wife Huma Abedin in New York, July 23, 2013.

No further details about how many weeks ago this search started have been revealed.

News of Weiner’s alleged texting with a 15-year-old girl was first reported by The Daily Mail on Sept. 21. It remains unknown whether the FBI investigation into his conduct started before or after the news became public.

Thursday, Oct. 27

The Clinton email investigators put together a summary of the situation and presented it all to FBI Director James Comey on Thursday, after which he agreed that the Clinton email investigators should seek a warrant to review the newly-discovered emails, a law enforcement source familiar with the matter.

It remains unclear why it took weeks for Comey to be informed of the newly discovered emails.

Friday, Oct. 28

In the early afternoon on Friday, 11 days before the election, Comey sent a letter to eight congressional leaders.

"In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation," Comey wrote in the letter.

"Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony," reads the letter to the leaders of various congressional committees.

Congressional sources told ABC News the letter from Comey came as a complete surprise.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday, “I don’t think anything has surfaced to change the president’s views and opinion of Secretary Clinton.”

A few hours after the initial release of the letter, multiple sources told ABC News that the emails came from a separate federal investigation of former Rep. Anthony Weiner. Federal prosecutors have been looking at whether Weiner sent an explicit text message to an underage girl in North Carolina.

In the course of that investigation, emails were discovered on at least one device used by Weiner and his wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin. She was among the handful of people that had an email address on Clinton’s private email server.

On Friday evening, Comey sent a letter to FBI employees in an apparent act of clarification.

“Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed,” Comey wrote in the letter.

He concluded by saying that “in trying to strike [a] balance” between keeping investigations private and disclosing relevant information, “there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.”

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 28, 2016.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 28, 2016.

Though Clinton's campaign chairman had put out a statement, Clinton herself did not mention the news at two events she held that afternoon and waited until a separate press conference later that evening to address it.

"I have now seen director Comey's letter to Congress. We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election of our lifetimes. Voting is already under way in our country. So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. The director himself has said he doesn't know whether the emails referenced in his letter are significant or not. I'm confident whatever they are will not change the conclusion reached in July. Therefore it is imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question whatever it is without any delay," she said.

Saturday, Oct. 29

Comey spoke on Saturday with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, and Ranking Member John Conyers, D-Michigan.

Those conversations were revealed the following day on ABC News' "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos, when Rep. Goodlatte said, "We both encouraged [Comey] to make sure that the American people have as much information as possible before they have to make a decision on Nov. 8, based upon this stunning new development, that the bureau is examining new evidence in this case, that they said they had completed several months ago."

On Saturday, top Senate Democrats sent a letter to Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting more information on the newly-identified emails by Monday.

Sunday, Oct. 30

The FBI obtained the appropriate warrant and began reviewing thousands of emails.

On the same day, former federal prosecutors -- including former Attorney General Eric Holder -- signed and issued a letter critical of Comey's handling of this latest development. The letter states: “Many of us have worked with Director Comey; all of us respect him. But his unprecedented decision to publicly comment on evidence in what may be an ongoing inquiry just eleven days before a presidential election leaves us both astonished and perplexed."

The Clinton campaign quickly circulated the letter.

Monday, Oct. 31

The White House has said it will remain neutral on the FBI's investigation of newly discovered emails connected to Hillary Clinton's private server, spokesman Josh Earnest said in a news conference today.

Earnest said he will neither "defend nor criticize" what Comey has decided to make public and that the White House will continue to be "scrupulous" in "avoiding even appearance of interference."

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