Fact Check

Huma Abedin Cut FBI Deal, Kept Clinton E-Mails in 'Life Insurance' Folder?

Rumors claimed that Huma Abedin retained deleted e-mails belonging to Hillary Clinton in a folder called "life insurance," and cut a deal with the FBI for them.

Published Oct. 31, 2016

Huma Abedin retained deleted e-mails of Hillary Clinton's in a folder marked "life insurance" and cut a deal with the FBI.

Shortly after news broke on 28 October 2016 that additional Clinton e-mails were potentially located on a computer linked with aide Huma Abedin, rumors circulated that thousands of potentially incriminating documents were found in a computer folder titled "life insurance," and that Abedin had cut a deal with investigators:

The "life insurance" claim (which bore some similarity to the long-circulating Clinton body bags rumor) appeared to hit a tipping point with the tweet reproduced here, and numerous articles all cited that single uncorroborated item (which may have been meant as a wry joke).

A slightly earlier tweet expressed the same notion, but again with no source link or reference:

We were unable to find any descriptive claims (credible or anecdotal) involving Huma Abedin's purported "life insurance" folder that appeared prior to these tweets. However, not long before they showed up on Twitter, a commenter on the web site Zero Hedge made a similar remark (in what appeared to be a joking reference to the "body count" rumor): huma life insurance file Articles containing the "life insurance" folder claimed cited only the tweets as a source. A popular related rumor held that Abedin "cut a deal" or negotiated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, presumably in relation to a criminal investigation into Clinton:

On 30 October 2016, multiple blog posts claimed Abedin had "turned on" Clinton and began "negotiating" with the FBI:

How’s It Feel, Hillary? CNN Just Announced Huma Has Decided to Negotiate with FBI

Huma Abedin’s lawyers are negotiating with the FBI about conducting a full search on estranged husband Anthony Weiner’s laptop in light of the new probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Huma Abedin’s lawyers are negotiating with the FBI about conducting a full search on estranged husband Anthony Weiner’s laptop in light of the new probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Those articles were based on a CNN article that stated:

The computer in question is considered to belong to [Abedin's estranged husband Anthony] Weiner.

Prior to obtaining the warrant, investigators saw enough of the emails to determine that they appeared pertinent to the previously completed investigation and that they may be emails not previously reviewed.

Agents saw enough of the emails that they believed there could be classified information and that it warranted further inquiry, law enforcement sources told CNN.

Because they didn't have a warrant specific to Abedin's emails, officials weren't able to further examine them. Justice Department and FBI officials view Abedin as cooperative with the investigation.

A correction to that article suggested that the original piece gave an inaccurate impression:

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that talks between the Department of Justice and Abedin's lawyers were underway. They are not.

However, the context of the source material made it clear that CNN reported Huma Abedin was "cooperative with the investigation," not "cooperating with investigators." The former suggested compliance without resistance, while the latter hinted Abedin was assisting law enforcement agents to protect herself in an attempt to build a case against Clinton.

At the time the rumors began circulating, little was known about the 28 October 2016 e-mail investigation development (providing scant basis for informed speculation). No substantiated information suggests that Abedin required or sought immunity, or that she maintained a "life insurance" folder.


Perez, Evan and Pamela Brown.   "FBI Discovered Clinton-Related Emails Weeks Ago."     CNN.   31 October 2016 (updated).

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.