FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday revealed that former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin regularly emailed classified documents to her husband Anthony Weiner so he could print them out for her, though Comey emphasized the FBI does not believe any crimes were committed in the process.
“His then-spouse, Huma Abedin, appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him, I think, to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the Secretary of State [Clinton],” Comey told members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, as part of an annual hearing on the FBI’s operations.
“My understanding is that his role would be to print them out as a matter of convenience,” Comey said of Weiner, adding that he did not believe the former congressman from New York had actually read the classified documents.
Even as Comey sought to play down Abedin and Weiner’s roles in the mishandling of classified information, his revelation sheds new light on why top-secret documents were found on Weiner’s computer last fall. It also informs why Comey felt compelled to announce the findings in a letter to Congress on Oct. 28, just 11 days before the presidential election.
The timing of Comey’s letter, which was promptly made public, is widely believed to have played a part in swinging the election in favor of President Donald Trump, who trailed Clinton in nearly every poll throughout the presidential campaign.
Many Clinton supporters still blame Comey and his 11th-hour letter for Trump’s narrow victory.
On Wednesday, Comey told senators that the FBI completed its investigation into Abedin and Weiner’s handling of classified material, and it found no evidence of criminal intent.
“With respect to Miss Huma Abedin in particular, we didn’t have any indication she had had a sense that what she was doing was a violation of the law,” Comey said of the forwarded emails. “And we couldn’t prove any sort of criminal intent.”
At the time that Weiner received the emails, Comey said, Weiner did not have a security clearance the way he would have had when he was a member of Congress.
Still, Comey said, the question of intent was at the heart of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. It was also, he said, its biggest stumbling block.
“Really, the central problem we had with the whole email investigation was proving that people knew that they were communicating about classified information in a way that they shouldn’t be, and proving that they had some sense that they were doing something unlawful,” Comey told the senators.
“That was our burden. And we weren’t able to meet it,” he added.
Comey’s comments came just a day after Clinton herself singled out his letter, sent Oct. 28, as part of the reason she was defeated last November. “If the election had been on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said at an event in New York.