The lawyer battling to unseal the search warrant used by the FBI to search Anthony Weiner’s laptop for potentially incriminating emails from former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won a major victory today. In response to the motion filed by E. Randol Schoenberg, Judge Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York ordered the court that provided the warrant to release “The search warrant, the application for the search warrant, the affidavit in support of the application for the search warrant, and the search warrant return” to the public. Those documents will be unsealed at noon Eastern Standard Time on December 20th.
Unless there is an order from the 2d Circuit staying the Order, the materials will be released at noon tomorrow.— E Randol Schoenberg (@RandySchoenberg) December 19, 2016
As the Forward reported last week, Schoenberg petitioned to have the search warrant unsealed through the courts after filing a lawsuit against the FBI demanding the agency honor a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request he had filed to have the search warrant released to the public.
As the Jewish Journal reported, after acknowledging receipt of such a request, the FBI has twenty business days to respond to it. After that period lapsed, Schoenberg filed suit to have his request addressed, after which he submitted his appeal to have the relevant documents released through the court that processed the search warrant, rather than through the FBI.
Schoenberg’s suit gained momentum after its first hearing last week as lawyers for Huma Abedin, a top Hillary Clinton aide and Weiner’s estranged wife, submitted a letter to Castel. As Reuters reported, Abedin’s lawyers explained she was unable to weigh in on the suit, as — they asserted — she had neither seen the search warrant used to search Weiner’s computer, which the couple shared, nor been alerted to the fact that the emails in question were on Weiner’s computer.
Here is the latest on the case that is now titled “In re Search Warrant Issued on October 30, 2016” https://t.co/0oeKxY9xr4pic.twitter.com/gEZ2f7Q3NL— E Randol Schoenberg (@RandySchoenberg) December 15, 2016
Her lawyers requested the court provide Abedin with a copy of the documents in question so she could form an opinion on the case. As far as they or she knew, they mentioned, Weiner had also not been provided with the warrant in question.
By law, agents executing search warrants are required to provide the parties who own the property involved with ” a copy of the warrant and receipt.” When the warrant concerns a remote search of electronic information, agents must make “reasonable efforts” to delivery copies of the same documents to the parties concerned.
Schoenberg’s interest in the search warrant revolves around the question of what probable cause was given to suspect that the material on Weiner’s laptop would be incriminating. (Under the Fourth Amendment, search and seizure are only permissible when proof of probable cause of criminal findings has been offered.)
“The FBI isn’t usually in the business of not finding things when they search,” Schoenberg told the Forward. Given that the investigation found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Clinton’s part, he suggested it was possible the warrant was based on wrong information from someone within the FBI.
What’s the significance of that?
Given ties between members of Trump’s campaign, like former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and the FBI, Schoenberg thinks its worth investigating the source of such wrong information, were it proven to exist.
“These type of things have in the past led to very serious repercussions,” he said.