WASHINGTON — Top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin regularly forwarded classified government emails to her husband Anthony Weiner, FBI Director James Comey said on Wednesday.
Weiner’s possession of the emails on his computer triggered Comey to announce just 11 days before the election that the FBI was reopening its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server, a move that sent her campaign into a tailspin and may have cost her the election.
“Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” he said during a hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee. “She forwarded hundreds of thousands of emails, some of which contained classified information.”
The repeatedly disgraced ex-congressman is facing a separate FBI investigation into his inappropriate sexual contact with a minor, which is why the FBI was looking through his emails in the first place.
Abedin told colleagues on the Clinton campaign at the time that she had no idea how the emails had wound up on Weiner’s computer and that’s why she didn’t turn the computer in to the State Department when she handed over other devices containing classified information, according to Politico and the Washington Post.
Comey said later that Weiner had the emails because Abedin had forwarded them to him to print them out for Clinton, who didn’t like reading emails onscreen.
“His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have a regular practice of forwarding emails to him,” he said. “My understanding was his role was to print them out as a matter of convenience.”
Comey said the FBI’s investigation into whether Abedin and Weiner had broken the law by mishandling classified information has been closed for the same reason the rest of the Clinton email investigation didn’t lead to any charges: They couldn’t find evidence of “criminal intent” intentionally mishandle classified intelligence.
Republicans weren’t thrilled with that stance, arguing that someone should have gone to prison for Clinton and her deputies mishandling classified information. But Comey was steadfast in his view — held since last year — that without being able to prove they knowingly broke the law, Clinton and her top aides couldn’t be prosecuted.
“Do you agree with me that Anthony Weiner of 2016 should not have access to classified information?” asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
“Yes that’s a fact,” Comey said, while demurring when pressed by Graham whether someone should be jailed for Weiner having access to the information. Comey said he didn’t think Weiner had approval to access classified information during his investigation, but didn’t say if Weiner did when he received the information.
“Somebody should be prosecuted for having Anthony Weiner have access to classified information,” Graham said.
“There’s no Anthony Weiner statute. But there’s already a statute,” Comey said to laughs.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) later called Comey’s line of reasoning “puzzling.”
But Comey said that FBI precedent showed a prosecution “required a general sense of criminal intent” and “a sense that what you’re doing is unlawful.”
Abedin’s attorney did not immediately respond to questions about Comey’s testimony.