FBI Corrects Comey’s Senate Testimony On Top Clinton Aide Forwarding Emails

FBI Director James Comey testifies under oath before the House Oversight Committee to explain his agency's recommendation to not prosecute Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic presidential candidate, over her private email setup during her time as secretary of state, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 7, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The FBI on Tuesday sent Congress a letter correcting Director James Comey’s testimony regarding the “hundreds and thousands” of emails he incorrectly claimed top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin forwarded to her husband Anthony Weiner.

“Director Comey spoke of hundreds and thousands of e-mails being forwarded from Ms. Abedin to Mr. Weiner’s laptop computer,” Gregory A. Brower, the assistant director for the bureau’s Office of Congressional Affairs, wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “Investigators ultimately determined that two e-mail chains containing classified information were manually forwarded to Mr. Weiner’s account.”

Comey testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Abedin made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of emails to Weiner “for him I think to print out” so Abedin could deliver the hard copies to Clinton.

ProPublica reported earlier Tuesday that piece of Comey’s testimony was inaccurate, and that the FBI had privately acknowledged the director’s misstatements but was still considering next steps.

“The FBI believes it is reasonable to conclude that most of the emails found on Mr. Weiner’s laptop computer related to the Clinton investigation occurred as a result of a backup of personal electronic devices,” Brower wrote in the letter to Grassley.

Eleven days before the 2016 election, Comey announced that the FBI would look into emails discovered on Weiner’s laptop, which he cast as a potential development in the dormant probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server. Two days before the election, Comey said a review of the emails had not changed his decision not to recommend charges against Clinton.

In January, the Justice Department’s inspector general announced he would investigate allegations “leading up to or relating to” Comey’s announcements to determine if “underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations.”

Clinton last week said she was “on the way to winning until the combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off.”

In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey argued that the FBI handled its investigations into Russia’s election meddling in President Donald Trump’s favor and into Clinton’s email server the same way, though he made no public comment about the former until the election was over.

“Was it appropriate for you to comment on one investigation repeatedly and not say anything about the other?” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Comey.

“I think so,” Comey replied. “I think I treated both investigations consistently under the same principles.”

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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