James Comey reportedly got some basic facts wrong in his Clinton email testimony, and the FBI is flummoxed

James Comey.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Last week, FBI Director James Comey testified before a Senate committee about his "painful" decision to publicly disclose that agents were looking at newly discovered Hillary Clinton emails on Oct. 28, just days before the presidential election. Clinton has said that she thinks Comey's letter to Congress, and the resulting heavy press coverage, was a significant contributor to her loss to President Trump, and some observers, like Nate Silver, find that credible.

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Whether or not you believe Comey was right to publicly disclose an ongoing, very sensitive investigation about a presidential candidate right before the election — and Comey stands by his decision — he got some pretty significant details about what the FBI discovered wrong in his testimony last week, ProPublica reports, and the FBI is struggling to figure out how to fix his misstatements. "On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week," ProPublica's Peter Elkind reported Monday night. "But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do."

In October, the FBI discovered a batch of Clinton emails on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and Comey testified last week that Abedin's emails were "being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information," and that she "appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him, for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the Secretary of State." In fact, "two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement," told Elkind, Abedin forwarded only a handful of emails to Weiner, not the "hundreds of thousands" Comey said, and most of the other emails were probably stored on Weiner's laptop as a result of regular backups of Abedin's BlackBerry.

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It's not clear if any of the emails Abedin forwarded to Weiner were among the 12 Comey said contained "classified" information, though none were marked classified at the time they were sent, Elkind says, and it's also unclear why Comey got his facts wrong. Comey re-closed the Clinton email investigation just before Election Day, saying agents had discovered nothing new and important. You can read more about the situation at ProPublica.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.