FBI Director James Comey told Congress Wednesday that revealing the reopening of the Hillary Clinton email probe just before Election Day came down to a painful, complicated choice between “really bad” and “catastrophic” options. He said he’d felt “mildly nauseous” to think he might have tipped the election outcome but in hindsight would change nothing. “I would make the same decision,” Comey declared during a lengthy hearing in which Democratic senators grilled him on the seeming inconsistency between the Clinton disclosure 11 days before the election and his silence about the bureau’s investigation into possible contacts between Russia and Trump’s campaign. Comey, offering an impassioned public defense of how he handled the election-year issues, insisted that the FBI’s actions in both investigations were consistent. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI cannot take into account how it might benefit or harm politicians. “I can’t consider for a second whose political futures will be affected and in what way,” Comey told the senators. “We have to ask ourselves what is the right thing to do and then do that thing.”
On Tuesday, Clinton partly attributed her loss to Comey’s disclosure to Congress less than two weeks before Election Day that the email investigation would be revisited. Trump disagreed, tweeting that Comey actually “was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!”
Wednesday’s hearing yielded Comey’s most extensive explanation by far for the decision-making process, including his unusual July 2016 news conference in which he announced the FBI’s decision not to recommend charges for Clinton and his notification to Congress months later.