If faced again with the choice of whether to alert Congress about the possibility of more relevant Hillary Clinton emails during the late stages of a presidential election, FBI Director James Comey says he'd "make the same decision." At a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his judgment on the FBI's investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server, Comey said he and his team thought very carefully before alerting Congress about the emails less than two weeks before Election Day. The emails did not end up changing the FBI's conclusion about the investigation.
"It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might've had some impact on the election. But honestly it wouldn't change the decision," Comey said, describing the experience as "one of the world's most painful." Clinton on Tuesday blamed Comey's letter for her loss in the election, saying it "raised doubts" in potential supporters' minds.
Comey explained that when he found out that there may be emails containing classified information from Clinton aide Huma Abedin on her estranged husband Anthony Weiner's laptop, which had been "seized in an unrelated case," he felt like he had no choice but to do something. "I could not see a door labeled 'no action here,'" Comey said. "I could see two doors, and they were both actions: One was labeled 'speak,' the other was labeled 'conceal.'" He argued that not alerting Congress that the FBI was restarting an investigation he'd repeatedly said was over would have been "catastrophic."
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) suggested Comey also could've kept up the FBI "tradition of not announcing investigations." Watch Comey defend his decision below. Becca Stanek