Last week, FBI Director James Comey showed himself to be more animated than he’d ever been while defending his decision to reopen Hillary Clinton’s email probe weeks before the election. He admitted to feeling “mildly nauseous” over the possibility that he swayed the election for Trump, but there were other moments of note. For example, he caused Internet chuckles while mentioning “this fella Anthony Weiner,” whose shared devices with wife Huma Abedin became the catalyst for reopening the investigation. Some Clinton emails were discovered on Weiner’s laptop (which was the subject of his sext-related probe), and Huma’s lawyer previously stated that she didn’t know how these emails ended up on the device. And that’s where Comey screwed up his testimony.
Comey told the Senate — and this ended up triggering more backlash on Huma — that “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton’s emails, “some of which contain classified information” (12 of them), were forwarded by Abedin as part of a “regular practice,” so that Weiner could print them for Clinton. However, ProPublica did some digging and found that Comey’s testimony was inaccurate, and the FBI is now scrambling to correct the record — if that’s even possible. ProPublica spoke to sources who say that that “FBI officials have privately acknowledged” the “misstated” facts, and a letter was being prepared to address the matter with Congress. Here’s the big problem:
According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made “a regular practice” of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.
It was not clear how many, if any, of the forwarded emails were among the 12 “classified” emails Comey said had been found on Weiner’s laptop. None of the messages carried classified markings at the time they were sent.
For now, the FBI has put their planned letter to Congress on ice, and they can’t figure out how to handle the embarrassing issue. To complicate matters, Comey’s intent in making the statement obviously isn’t clear at this point. So, the FBI could be dealing with something as innocent as an error, as clumsy as a misstatement, or as intentional as a false claim.
Also, it’s May 2017, and we’re still talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails (there’s a real injustice). Yet Comey maintained to the Senate that he had believed that the emails on Weiner’s device would have filled the eight-week chunk of missing emails from then-Secretary of State Clinton’s tenure. This probe ended in the FBI declaring (for a second time) that they found no criminality related to Hillary’s private email server.