State Department releases classified emails from Anthony Weiner's laptop

But the release was triggered by a request from a right-wing group that poses as "nonpartisan" to try to smear Dems

By Nicole Karlis
Published December 29, 2017 11:30PM (UTC)
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FILE - In this July 23, 2013 file photo, Huma Abedin, alongside her husband, then-New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, speaks during a news conference in New York. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin says she is separating from husband Anthony Weiner after another sexting revelation involving the former congressman from New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) (AP)

The State Department announced the release of 2,800 documents, including a number of emails from Hillary Clinton’s former top aide Huma Abedin. Reports in CNN and USA Today noted that the emails in question were found on Anthony Weiner's laptop by the FBI, and released in response to a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a so-called government watchdog group with a history of making false statements about prominent liberals.

Judicial Watch's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request sought, according to the CNN report: "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-'' email address."

Several of the emails found included classified information and were labeled "confidential," or were severely redacted, according to CNN. According to a separate report about the release in USA Today, despite the redacted emails, some of the ones included the following information:

A message in one November 2011 email was redacted entirely and was marked "classified" and "confidential."

The email's subject line reads, "Egyptian MFA on Hammas-PLO talks," an apparent reference to the Palestinian Authority.

In one 2010 email, Abedin forwarded an email another official sent to her and Clinton discussing changes in Israel’s Gaza policy. Another email in 2010 discusses the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti and United Nations staffers who were still buried under rubble.

Former FBI Director James Comey said in a testimony earlier this year that “emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information by (Clinton's) assistant, Huma Abedin.”

The FBI responded and 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."

For those who might not recall, Weiner’s laptop saga rattled Clinton’s 2016 campaign and resurfaced the controversy of her use of a private email server. Prior to the election, Comey claimed that the FBI discovered emails that were "pertinent" to the Clinton case, but "in connection with an unrelated case” which we now know was that related to Weiner.

The group that made the Freedom of Information Act request, Judicial Watch, claims to be non-partisan but is infamous for mostly attacking prominent Democrats. As Heather Digby Parton wrote in Salon:

Judicial Watch [was] formed in the early 90s by a conservative gadfly named Larry Klayman. Klayman was a one-man wrecking crew who filed more than 18 lawsuits against members of the Clinton administration costing them millions of dollars in legal fees. The most notable of these was a $90 million invasion of privacy suit filed against Hillary Clinton and others on behalf of the "victims" of Filegate, one of the many scandals for which both Bill and Hillary Clinton were completely exonerated by two different independent counsels.

[T]hat was just one of many Judicial Watch lawsuits, including one in which Klayman sued his own mother for $50,000, that went nowhere. But they did achieve their true purpose, which was to damage reputations, smear political opponents and inflict huge legal fees on anyone who happened to be in the administration.

[...] The Obama presidency proved to be fertile ground [for Judicial Watch]. Judicial Watch  accused the administration of creating dozens of "czars" that don't exist, and has made a fetish out of lying about the Obamas' travel expenses. This so-called watchdog group has engaged in some truly weird conspiracy-mongering.

Parton warns against the press falling for Judicial Watch's headline-seeking antics. "The first time it waged its campaign of character assassination against Bill and Hillary Clinton, it's perhaps understandable that the press failed to recognize they were being manipulated by political operatives," she writes. "There's no excuse for the media to fall for it again."


Nicole Karlis

Nicole Karlis is a staff writer at Salon. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

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