FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, often forwarded classified information to her husband, Anthony Weiner, to print out for her while she was serving as one of Clinton's closest advisers at the State Department.
Those emails were found on Weiner's laptop last year while he was being investigated by the FBI for allegedly sending explicit messages to an underaged girl. The discovery of those emails is part of the reason why the bureau felt compelled to revisit the investigation — shortly before the presidential election — into whether Clinton and her aides mishandled classified information while she was Secretary of State, Comey said.
"On October 27, the team that had finished its investigation into Clinton's email server asked to meet with me," Comey explained earlier in the hearing. "What they could see from the metadata that they found on Anthony Weiner's laptop is that there were thousands of new emails... including what might be the missing emails from her Verizon Blackberry. So I authorized them to seek a search warrant."
Later, Comey explained that Abedin "had a regular practice of forwarding emails to [Weiner] for him to print out for her, which she would then deliver to the Secretary of State."
Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy asked Comey if Weiner ever read the emails, and, in turn, whether he was ever exposed to classified information that he shouldn't have seen.
Comey replied that he doesn't think Weiner "ever read the emails."
"His role was to print them out as a matter of convenience," Comey said. He noted that the FBI ultimately determined that neither Abedin nor Weiner committed a crime because the bureau could not conclude they had criminal intent.
"That was a central problem over the course of the Clinton email investigation — we had to prove that people knew that they were communicating about classified information in a way that they shouldn't have been, and that they were doing something unlawful. That was our burden, and we didn't meet it. We could not prove that the people sending that [classified] information were acting with any kind of criminal intent."
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz pushed back on the idea that criminal intent requires knowing that that the act itself is unlawful. But Comey insisted that the Department of Justice has long held that "a general sense of criminal intent is necessary" to prosecute someone for a crime.
"I can't find a case that's been brought in the last 50 years that has no showing of [criminal] intent," Comey said.
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