Fox News personalities are echoing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, which claimed that the FBI would not have been able to “review 650,000 emails in eight days” to cast doubt on the bureau’s probe into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. However, experts point out that the FBI is able to do so using technology such as “automated search and filtering tools.”
FBI Director Again Clears Clinton In Email Probe
CNN: FBI Concludes Review Of New Emails And, Once Again, Declines To Pursue Charges. FBI Director James Comey on November 6 wrote to Congress that the bureau has “not changed our conclusions” in the probe into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Department of Justice will not pursue charges, according to CNN. From the November 6 CNN report:
FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers Sunday the agency hasn't changed its opinion that Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges after a review of new emails.
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July,” Comey wrote in the new letter to congressional committee chairmen. [CNN, 11/6/16]
Trump Campaign Casts Doubt Over FBI’s Investigation
Trump Campaign Alleges The FBI Couldn’t Have Reviewed All “650,000 Emails In Eight Days.” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign asserted that the FBI was not capable of reviewing all of the emails the bureau said it went through. Surrogates including Gen. Michael Flynn tweeted that it was “IMPOSSIBLE” for the FBI to have “thoroughly reviewed 650,000 emails in 8 days.” Trump claimed that Clinton “‘is being protected by a rigged system,’” adding, “‘You can’t review 650,000 emails in eight days.’” [CNN, 11/6/16; Twitter, 11/6/16]
Fox Echoes Trump’s Claim To Delegitimize The Investigation
Fox’s Sean Hannity: “Any Logical Person Can See” The FBI Wasn’t Able To “Analyze 650,000 Emails In Only 10 Days.” Fox host Sean Hannity asserted that it took the FBI “almost a year to go through [30,000] to 32,000 emails,” doubting the FBI’s ability to “somehow … analyze 650,000 emails in only 10 days.” Hannity added, “Any logical person can see that simply does not make sense.” From the November 6 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Now let’s put this into perspective. The first time the FBI looked into Clinton’s server, it took them almost a year to go through [30,000] to 32,000 emails. And now, somehow, they were able to analyze 650,000 emails in only 10 days. Now any logical person can see that simply does not make sense. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/6/16]
Fox’s Newt Gingrich: “Nobody Believes” The FBI “Is Capable Of Taking 650,000 Emails And Reviewing Them In Eight Days.” Fox contributor Newt Gingrich claimed, “Nobody believes that the federal government is capable of taking 650,000 emails and reviewing them in eight days.” Gingrich added that the FBI “rush[ed] to judgment again” in its review. From the November 6 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
NEWT GINGRICH: Nobody believes that the federal government is capable of taking 650,000 emails and reviewing them in eight days. I mean, look how long it's taken them to review stuff over the last year-and-a-half or two years. Yet suddenly, just to fit the Sunday before the election, they rush to judgment again. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/6/16]
Fox’s Tammy Bruce: “Nobody Really Believes” The FBI Went Through All 650,000 Emails. Fox contributor Tammy Bruce claimed that “nobody really believes” Comey when he says the FBI went through all 650,000 emails in one week. Host Lou Dobbs echoed the claim, pointing out that it took the FBI “10 months to do 50,000” emails. From the November 6 edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight:
LOU DOBBS (HOST): Is [Comey] out of his mind, or is he just simply falling weakly to the ground, being pushed there by his bosses at the Justice Department and the White House?
TAMMY BRUCE: It’s a political appointment. The attorney general is a political appointment. This is the establishment --
DOBBS: Is he a weak-kneed failure who is simply doing what he’s told?
BRUCE: I think that he has been pressured. I think it’s led up to bad decisions before. He’s now being even pressured more. We know he met with [Attorney General] Loretta Lynch. And I think that his lack of an ability to stick with what should happen -- look, 650,000 emails, one week and they say that they went through all of them? Nobody really believes that.
DOBBS: It only took them 10 months to do 50,000 so. So, how confident are you tonight, Dom, about James Comey? I mean, he looks awful. He looks corrupt, he looks weak. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/6/16]
Fox’s Ed Rollins: It’s “Absurd” To Believe That The FBI Checked 650,000 Emails. Fox contributor Ed Rollins casted doubt on the FBI’s review, calling it “absurd” to believe the announcement that 650,000 emails were “just duplicates” of those the FBI had already seen. From the November 6 edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight:
ED ROLLINS: The interesting thing is Comey started this drill because his agents had come to him and said there’s things here that are different. In the middle of the week, this week, they said there’s a bunch of things that we have found that were not there in the original group. And all of a sudden today, after again, 650,000 emails on a computer by guy who was thrown out of Congress for basically sex taping with 15-year-old girls, and we say, “Well they’re just duplicates, there’s nothing there we can find that's new evidence,” is absurd.
LOU DOBBS (HOST): There’s -- as you go through that. I mean, there's no one right now, I believe there are very few people in this country right now, who believe a damn thing that James Comey says. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/6/16]
Fox Guest Peter Schweizer: It’s “Hard To Believe They’ve Gone Through 650,000 In Such A Short Period Of Time.” Fox Business guest Peter Schweizer claimed that “Donald Trump is correct,” adding, “it’s kind of hard to believe they've gone through 650,000 emails in such a short period of time.” From the November 7 edition of Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria Bartiromo:
PETER SCHWEIZER: And the way it’s been explained is to me by people in the FBI-sphere is that basically they’re going to get one bite at this apple. So if you bring an email case prosecution or were to do that and were to fail, the Clinton Foundation investigation, just politically, it would be too much. So, yes, I think Donald Trump is correct, in that it’s kind of hard to believe they've gone through 650,000 emails in such a short period of time. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 11/7/16]
Technology Allows The FBI To Search 650,000 In A Short Amount Of Time
Wired: “The FBI Can Review Hundreds Of Thousands Of Emails In A Week.” Technology blog and magazine Wired refuted Gen. Michael Flynn’s assertion that the FBI was not capable of reviewing all of the emails, reporting that the bureau “can review hundreds of thousands of emails in a week” by “using automated search and filtering tools.” Wired explained that “forensics experts" say "investigators’ jobs might even be particularly easy” in this case, because simply “filtering by ‘to:’ or ‘from:’ could cut out hundreds of thousands of messages.” From the November 6 report:
But fortunately for Comey’s eyesight—and for Clinton’s presidential campaign—Trump is wrong: the FBI can review hundreds of thousands of emails in a week, using automated search and filtering tools rather than Flynn’s absurd notion of Comey reading the documents manually. “This is not rocket science,” says Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensics expert who’s consulted for law enforcement and worked as a systems administrator. “Eight days is more than enough time to pull this off in a responsible way.”
In this case in particular, forensics experts say, investigators’ jobs might even be particularly easy: Because the new collection of emails under investigation were taken from the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the husband of Clinton Aide Huma Abedin, only a portion of those emails would be messages sent to or from Clinton or anyone else on the campaign rather than those sent to or from Weiner’s contacts. Simple filtering by “to:” or “from:” could cut out hundreds of thousands of messages.
In other words, no, General Flynn, it’s not impossible to read an email in a second. That’s what computers are for. [Wired, 11/6/16]
CNN Counterterrorism Analyst: “Yes, You Can” Review Thousands Of Emails Quickly. CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd dismissed Trump’s claim, saying that “yes, you can” review the new emails that quickly. Mudd pointed out that there were reportedly “a lot” of duplicates of emails the bureau has already seen, and the agency doesn't have to "have a human being” sorting out the duplicates. From the November 7 edition of CNN’s New Day:
CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): For Trump's part, he’s saying once again it's proof it’s rigged. That Comey’s obviously in the bag for Clinton and you can't go through that many emails that fast. Your take?
PHIL MUDD: My take is yes, you can. First of all, what they're doing is to determine how many are duplicates. Evidently, a lot are. That’s an electronic process. You don't have to have a human being doing that. And second, you have an army of people 24/7 looking at the remaining emails, saying are they personal or are they classified? I think one of the problems in this case is the FBI felt pressure to do that 24/7. Not a good way to run an investigation. But it was the attorney general and FBI director who put themselves in that position in the first place. [CNN, New Day, 11/7/16]