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

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


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.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate