When he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Comey claimed that Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin had made a “regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton’s emails to her husband Anthony Weiner, so they could be printed out. Comey said that this bizarre practice (Is Abedin secretly 73 years old? Why didn’t Abedin forward them to her own computer?) was ultimately what led the FBI to renew its investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified email. It also attracted the ire of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who, as yesterday’s hearing with Sally Yates and James Clapper will testify, are desperate to deflect attention from negative stories about President Trump. Some wondered why, if Abedin had forward classified information to an individual’s computer—particularly an individual with Weiner’s, uh, history—she hadn’t been prosecuted.
Late Monday we got an answer to that question, though it’s not the one that congressional Republicans wanted. ProPublica reported that Comey had mischaracterized Abedin’s handling of the emails. Instead of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of emails to Weiner’s computer to be printed out, she had forwarded only a few—and there is no evidence that she made a “regular practice” of sending emails to Weiner’s computer. So how did the emails end up on Weiner’s (presumably gross) computer? “It was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry,” ProPublica reports.
This is a very large mistake on Comey’s part: It decreases the number of emails sent by Huma Abedin to Anthony Weiner from “hundreds and thousands” to “a handful.” The fact that many emails were present on Weiner’s computer still isn’t a good look for Abedin but there is a more innocent explanation—that they were there, perhaps unknowingly, as Blackberry backups. Abedin’s crime changes from her acting as if she’s above the law to being technologically illiterate. The FBI is expected to clarify Comey’s testimony at some point this week.