Hillary Clinton emails containing classified information were forwarded to former congressman Anthony Weiner, the director of the FBI testified Wednesday as he defended his handling of politically sensitive probes surrounding the last year’s presidential race.
Under questioning from the senior Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), James B. Comey revealed more details about how Clinton’s emails ended up on Weiner’s computer.
Weiner, a New York Democrat, was married to a top aide to Clinton, Huma Abedin. Weiner was being investigated separately for possible inappropriate communications with a minor.
“Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.”
The two were investigated for possible mishandling of classified material, but the FBI ultimately dropped the matter without seeking charges because they could not show either of them intended to violate the law, Comey said.
“Really the central problem we had with the whole email investigation was proving people… had some sense they were doing something unlawful. That was our burden and we were unable to meet it,’’ he said.
The director defended his decision to notify Congress that he had reopened the Clinton email probe just days before the election, saying he was forced to choose between saying something or concealing what he knew — or, as he put it, “between really bad and catastrophic.’’
He added: “It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election.”
Comey said he has been interviewed by the Justice Department’s inspector general as part of an internal investigation into how the FBI handled the Clinton case.
“I want that inspection, I want my story told,’’ he said. “If I did something wrong, I want to hear that.”
“Lordy, has this been painful,’’ he said. “I’ve gotten all kinds of rocks thrown at me and this has been really hard, but I think I’ve done the right thing at each turn.’’
Comey has been under intense pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to explain his decision-making, and he faced more criticism in Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing was scheduled to conduct general congressional oversight of the FBI, but politically sensitive investigations quickly became the focus of lawmakers’ questions.
The chairman of the committee, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), opened the hearing by saying that “a cloud of doubt hangs over the FBI.” He demanded that the bureau reveal more about how it has handled the probes.
“We need to know whether there was anything improper going on between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or if these allegations are just a partisan smear campaign that manipulated our government into chasing conspiracy theories,” Grassley said.
Comey began his prepared testimony by praising the work of the FBI, citing the recent successful investigations of bomb threats against Jewish community centers, hacking networks and doctors accused of female genital mutilation.
“I love this work, I love this job, and I love it because of the mission and the people I get to work with,’’ he said.