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it was terrible for everyone

FBI Director James Comey says 2016 was a 'challenging year' for the organization

In a massive understatement, FBI Director James Comey told staff in an internal message that 2016 was a "challenging year," but he stands by the FBI's actions throughout.

"I would be lying if I said the external criticism doesn't bother me at all, but the truth is, it doesn't bother me much because of the way we made decisions," he said in the annual New Year message sent Tuesday. "At every turn last year, we were faced with choosing among bad options and making decisions we knew would bring a torrent of criticism." Comey faced condemnation over his handling of the inquiry into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, and he briefly mentioned the server while running down the events that made 2016 a "challenging year" — other lowlights included the "contentious election," the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and the standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Some good things happened during the year, too, he said, like the hiring of 3,059 new FBI employees and improvements to the agency's management of computer systems used in investigations. "As it always is, our work was subject to a fair amount of second-guessing," Comey said. "We try to stare hard at our own work, take feedback that is thoughtful, and always work to be better."