WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey told a Senate committee last week that “hundreds and thousands” of emails containing classified information had been forwarded from top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin to the home computer she shared with her husband — and one-time New York congressman — Anthony Weiner.
Turns out that’s not true as Comey drastically overstated the number of emails Abedin had forwarded to Weiner, and that the FBI was in the midst of trying to find a way to correct the record.
It’s not clear what led Comey to offer such an exaggerated number during his testimony in front of the Senate judiciary committee.
It could have been a simple error, the result of hours of questioning that was largely adversarial from senators in both parties.
In truth, it doesn’t really matter why Comey messed up — even if the honest answer is that he had a brief mental lapse or got two figures confused in his head.
For Clinton and her allies, Comey’s mistake is further evidence of his botched handling of the investigation into her private email server and the role he played — wittingly or unwittingly — in shaping the 2016 election.
Clinton last week blamed Comey’s letter to members of Congress on Oct. 28 — informing them that the Weiner-Abedin computer had been found and the investigation reopened — for her loss at the hands of Donald Trump.
“I was on the way to winning until the combination of Jim Comey’s letter on Oct. 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off,” Clinton said. “And the evidence for that intervening event is compelling, persuasive.”
Last week, Comey strongly defended his decision to alert Congress just days before the 2016 election about his agency’s investigation into emails potentially related to Clinton’s personal server.
Comey admitted in the Senate hearing that the decision on whether to inform Congress of the reopened investigation or keep quiet until more could be known about the contents of the emails found on the Weiner-Abedin computer made him “mildly nauseous.”
But he went ahead with it anyway. And it turned out that the emails on that computer contained nothing new or revelatory.
The FBI announced that on Nov. 6, two days before the election.
That decision — and the impact it clearly had on the election — has been a very sore spot since Nov. 8.
This latest revelation — that Comey overstated the number of emails that Abedin forwarded to Weiner — will serve to grind salt into that still-raw wound.