At least five of the 2,800 emails stored on a laptop belonging to former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner were marked “confidential” and involved delicate talks with Middle Eastern leaders and Hillary Clinton’s top aide.
On Friday, the State Department released a batch of around 2,800 work-related documents from the email account of Huma Abedin, who served as the deputy chief of staff to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
At least five of the emails found on Abedin’s ex-husband’s laptop were heavily redacted and marked classified and at “confidential” level, the third more sensitive class the US government uses below “secret” and “top secret.”
The State Department applies the confidential classification level to information that “the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security,” according to the Government Publishing Office.
While the documents were not marked as classified before they were released, some of the information recovered in the emails was considered classified. It is illegal for civilians to posses or read classified documents without a security clearance.
The confidential emails, which date from 2010 to 2012, concern discussions with Middle Eastern leaders.
One of the emails has the subject “Egyptian MFA on Hamas-PLO talks,” referring to the Palestine Liberation Organization. The email is mostly redacted, only mentioning that it is a “further update on Hamas-PA talks,” referring to the Palestinian Authority.
Another four-page email contains a completely redacted “call sheet” to prepare Clinton for an upcoming call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A call sheet in another 2010 email includes notes to guide Clinton through a call she would make to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. The purpose of the call was to inform Saud about an impending WikiLeaks disclosure.
“This appears to be the result of an illegal act in which a fully cleared intelligence officer stole information and gave it to a website. The person responsible will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the call sheet instructed Clinton to say.
Clinton was warning the Saudis the leak could contain information related to “private conversations with your government on Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan,” and asked the Saudi’s to help the US prevent WikiLeaks from “undermining our mutual interests.”
During a congressional hearing in 2016, former FBI Director James Comey said Abedin regularly forwarded emails to Weiner for him to “print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.”
The emails were released in response to a 2015 lawsuit filed by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch against the State Department after it failed to respond to a Freedom of Information request (FOIA) 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.”
In a statement issued Friday, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton called the release a "major victory,” adding that it was no surprise there were classified documents on Weiner's computer.
“It will be in keeping with our past experience that Abedin’s emails on Weiner’s laptop will include classified and other sensitive materials,” Fitton said in a statement. “That these government docs were on Anthony Weiner’s laptop dramatically illustrates the need for the Justice Department to finally do a serious investigation of Hillary Clinton’s and Huma Abedin’s obvious violations of law.”
The emails were discovered on Weiner’s laptop during an FBI investigation into allegations that he engaged in ‘sexting’ with a 15-year-old girl. In September, Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to sending obscene material to a minor.
The discovery of the emails led Comey to announce that the FBI was reopening an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server 11 days before the 2016 presidential election. Clinton said the announcement contributed to her loss to Donald Trump.
Three days before the presidential election, the FBI announced that it had found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Comey said that of the 30,000 emails, eight chains contained information that was ‘top secret’ at the time they were sent, 36 contained ‘secret’ information, and eight contained ‘confidential’ information.
In July 2016, Comey said that the FBI did not find “clear evidence” that she intentionally violated any laws concerning the handling of classified information. However, he said there was evidence that she was “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
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