At the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Director James Comey addressed his bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton, and his own decision to publicly announce that he was reopening the investigation 11 days prior to the presidential election. Ranking committee member Senator Diane Feinstein asked Comey about his decision to make that announcement, and Comey said if he had to do it again, he’d make the same call.
Comey defended his decision to publicly announce that the FBI was investigating materials on Anthony Weiner‘s laptop that may have been connected to the Clinton investigation. “Having repeatedly told this Congress we were done and there was nothing there,” Comey said, “not speaking about it would be an act of concealment, in my view.” While he acknowledged that he knew speaking publicly about it would be really bad, not saying anything would be “catastrophic.”
“Look, this is terrible,” Comey said. “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election, but honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision.” He said that as painful as the experience was, in hindsight, “I would make the same decision.” Comey also pointed out that he didn’t make a big announcement, rather he sent a letter to Congress, although he noted that in some people’s eyes there isn’t much of a difference.
Before he made the decision, Comey said, one of his junior attorneys asked him if he should consider that a public announcement could result in the election of Donald Trump. “I said, ‘Thank you for raising that. Not for a moment, because down that path lies the death of the FBI as an independent institution in America.'”
On Tuesday, Clinton spoke about Comey’s decision at an event in New York, saying she believes that “intervening events” in the days before the election are why she lost.
[Image via screengrab]