FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that it makes him “mildly nauseous” to think he might have impacted the presidential election by telling Congress in late October that it was revisiting the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s ranking Democrat, had asked Comey why he felt the need to announce the reopened the investigation, and argued that “the actions taken by the FBI” in late October “did have an impact on the election.”
Comey stood by his decision and justified it by saying he had to choose between the “really bad” option of disclosing the findings and potentially affecting the outcome of the election, and the “catastrophic” option of concealing them.
“On October 27, the team that had finished its investigation into Clinton’s email server asked to meet with me,” Comey explained. “What they could see from the meta data that they found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop is that their were thousands of new emails, including what might be the missing emails from her Verizon Blackberry.”
“So I authorised them to seek a search warrant, and then I faced a choice. I sat there that morning and I could not see a door labelled ‘no action here.’ There were two doors: One was labelled ‘speak,’ the other was labelled ‘conceal.’ Having repeatedly told this Congress that there’s nothing there — to restart and potentially find emails and not speak about it would require concealment. So, to speak would be really bad. But concealment in my view, would have been catastrophic.”
“Choosing between ‘really bad’ and ‘catastrophic,’ I told my team we had to tell Congress. They worked night after night and found thousands of new emails that included classified information… but we ultimately found nothing that changed our view about [Clinton’s] intent. It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some kind of impact on the election. But tell me, what you would do in that position? Would you speak, or would you conceal? In hindsight, I would make the same decision. I would not conceal that from Congress.”
On October 28, Comey wrote a letter to Congress saying that the FBI had learned of “the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent” to the investigation into Clinton’s email server, which had originally been closed in July. The emails were discovered as the FBI was examining former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop, which he shared with his wife, Huma Abedin, a top Clinton aide. (Weiner had been accused of exchanging sexually explicit texts with a 15-year-old girl.)
The letter was promptly released by Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, and dominated the headlines of major media outlets in the days leading up to the election.
Whereas many Clinton backers felt vindicated by Comey’s revelation last month that the FBI had been investigating President Donald Trump and his associates for their ties to Russia since last July, others were outraged that Comey broke FBI protocol to disclose the existence of new Clinton emails just days before the election, but didn’t tell voters that Trump was also under FBI investigation until four months after the election.
LIVE: Comey says it makes him ‘mildly nauseous’ to think that FBI might have had impact on the 2016 election https://t.co/A5ONnsOYRG pic.twitter.com/5Y9lThs0nH
— Reuters Live (@ReutersLive) May 3, 2017
NOW WATCH: ‘OJ had me shook’: A Georgetown professor reveals what it was like to talk to OJ Simpson after bashing him on national television
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.