The State Department posted a number of emails belonging to former top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin on Friday after the messages were found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop by the FBI. Several of the released documents were found to contain information classified “confidential,” and were heavily redacted.
Friday’s release is in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking: “All emails of official State Department business received or sent by former Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin from January 1, 2009 through February 1, 2013 using a non-‘state.gov’ email address.”
The FBI has previously said that a number of Abedin’s documents were backed up on Weiner’s laptop, and that some smaller number were manually forwarded. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last May, the FBI said, “Although we do not know the exact numbers, based on its investigation, 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, with a small number a result of manual forwarding by Ms. Abedin to Mr. Weiner.”
Then-FBI Director James Comey testified earlier this year that “Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information by (Clinton’s) assistant, Huma Abedin,” he said.
But there was no indication that Abedin “had a sense that what she was doing was in violation of the law,” Comey added, and investigators couldn’t prove any sort of criminal intent.
The emails weren’t marked as classified, though the FBI later found classified information contained in some emails recovered from Weiner’s laptop.
CNN has previously reported it was likely that some of the emails stored on Weiner’s laptop contained classified information, and fired FBI Director Comey testified that there is no indication Abedin “had a sense that what she was doing was in violation of the law.”
The fact that Clinton and Abedin previously exchanged classified emails gave federal prosecutors probable cause to justify their review of Weiner’s laptop in fall 2015, according to a search warrant application released in December 2016.
Eleven days before the 2016 presidential election, Comey announced that the FBI had discovered emails possibly “pertinent” to the Clinton email server probe “in connection with an unrelated case.” That unrelated case was New York prosecutors’ separate investigation into allegations that Weiner — a former New York congressman and the estranged husband of Abedin — had sexted with an underage girl.
The review of the laptop — publicly disclosed less than two weeks before the election — jolted Clinton’s campaign and resurfaced the controversy over her use of a private email server at the State Department.
The search warrant and supporting documents unsealed last year shed new light on how the FBI framed its argument for access to the emails and what federal investigators hoped to find. More specifically, investigators sought information on those who had accessed classified information, communications with Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state and “activity related to a computer intrusion.”
Though neither Abedin nor Weiner was identified by name in the search warrant documentation, and the court ordered the materials redacted, the affidavit in support of the warrant makes clear that the FBI argued that there was further probable cause to search Weiner’s hard drive in light of the fact that Abedin and Clinton previously exchanged classified emails.
Weiner was sentenced earlier this year to 21 months in federal prison for sexting with a minor.