Comey Feels “Mildly Nauseous” About Possibly Affecting the Presidential Election

But the FBI director says he would make the same decision again.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom via ZUMA

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FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday that he had no good options when it came to deciding whether to notify Congress 11 days before the presidential election that the bureau was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices.

Comey famously chose to send a letter to lawmakers on October 28, 2016, disclosing the new investigation. That letter was promptly made public by Republicans and, according to experts, it likely had a significant effect on the outcome of the race—despite the fact that the renewed probe turned up nothing incriminating. In his testimony Wednesday, Comey said that even though he felt sick at the thought that his actions might have affected the election, he would make the same choice again.

“This was terrible,” he told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “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.”

Comey said he had to make a choice between speaking or concealing the fact that he was reopening the investigation. “Even in hindsight—and this has been one of the world’s most painful experiences—I would make the same decision,” he said. “I would not conceal that.”

Comey also emphasized that he “didn’t make a public announcement” about the renewed investigation but rather sent a “private letter” to the leaders of the congressional oversight committees. That statement drew laughter from Feinstein.

“On the letter, it was just a matter of minutes before the world knew about it,” Feinstein said.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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