FBI Director James Comey testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Hillary Clinton emails containing classified information were forwarded to the computer of Anthony Weiner, the former congressman, by his wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Comey also strongly defended himself on Capitol Hill for his Oct. 28 letter notifying Congress of newly discovered emails appearing pertinent to Clinton's private server investigation, arguing it would have been "catastrophic" to conceal such a revelation.
He explained that his investigative team informed him in late October of metadata from Weiner's computer showing thousands of Clinton's emails on that device, including what they thought might be the "missing emails" from her first three months at the State Department.
Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 over a sexting scandal and saw a 2013 mayoral run in New York City go up in flames for similar reasons. The investigation that led to Comey's letter concerned his sexting with an underage girl.
Acknowledging that he did not want to influence the election in any way, Comey told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) that he could only see two options: Speak or conceal.
"Having repeatedly told this Congress we are done and there's nothing there … To re-start in a hugely significant way, potentially finding the emails that would reflect on her intent from the beginning, and not speak about it would require an act of concealment in my view," he said.
Comey said that speaking out with less than two weeks to go before Election Day would be "really bad," but he called an act of concealment "catastrophic."
"Between really [bad] and catastrophic, I said to my team, we've got to walk into the world of ‘really bad,'" he said. "I've got to tell Congress that we're restarting this."
His team found "thousands" of emails, some containing classified information, that were forwarded to Weiner's computer.
"Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information, by her assistant, Huma Abedin," Comey said.
CNN reported on another exchange with Sen. John Kennedy (R.. La.):
In separate exchange with Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, Comey said that Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to Weiner for him "to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the Secretary of State."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.
After summing up what led him to not change his mind about Clinton's intent, he said "this was terrible" and he felt "mildly nauseous" about possibly having an impact on the election's outcome.
"Even in hindsight, and this has been one of the world's most painful experiences, I would make the same decision. I would not conceal that," Comey said.
Democrats sang Comey's praises when he said in July that he would not recommend charges against Clinton for her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, although he called her "extremely careless" with classified material.
Democratic lawmakers turned on him, however, after the letter came out in October, and Clinton's allies say his decision is a significant reason for her defeat.
On Tuesday, Clinton herself blamed Comey.
"I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey's letter on Oct. 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but were scared off," Clinton said at the Women for Women International Conference.
UPDATE: 1:45 P.M.: This article has been updated to include in Comey's remarks that the emails were forwarded to Weiner by Huma Abedin, and that he also said there was no indication that Abedin was doing anything she thought was illegal.