FBI Director Jim Comey overstated a bombshell claim he made in a Senate hearing last week about Huma Abedin’s handling of her boss Hillary Clinton’s emails.
During testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey said that Abedin had “forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information” to a laptop owned by her husband, Anthony Weiner.
But sources close to the email investigation told both ProPublica and The Washington Post that Comey grossly overstated the number of emails Abedin forwarded to Weiner’s computer. They said Abedin did so a few times but did not make a regular practice of it, as Comey had claimed.
Comey’s comments at the hearing were significant because he cited Abedin’s frequent forwarding of Clinton emails to explain why the FBI decided to re-open its email investigation in late October, just before the election.
ProPublica reports that the FBI is considering sending a letter to Congress clearing up Comey’s error.
Comey was heavily criticized for re-opening the Clinton email case, which had been closed in July. The decision was made after agents discovered Clinton emails on Weiner’s laptop during an investigation into illicit messages that the disgraced former congressman sent a 15-year-old girl. Agents who worked the email investigation believed that the emails may have been from the early days of Clinton’s State Department tenure. Investigators had been unable to obtain those records.
Comey closed the investigation days later, saying that a review showed that the emails were copies of records that the FBI already possessed. He has faced heavy criticism from Democrats who believe that re-opening the email probe was one of the factors leading to Clinton’s loss to President Trump.
Comey also said last week that both Abedin and Weiner “potentially” broke the law.
According to ProPublica’s sources, Clinton’s emails wound up on Weiner’s laptop after she backed up her BlackBerry on the device.
FBI investigators had identified 12 emails on Weiner’s laptop that contained unmarked classified information. It is not clear whether any of those were forwarded by Abedin.