FBI Director James Comey: “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election.” https://t.co/9361xp3gCL
— CNN (@CNN) May 3, 2017
On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey endured severe grilling during a Senate hearing over why he reopened the Clinton email probe mere weeks before the election. The timing is notable, since Hillary spoke out yesterday to accept “personal responsibility” for her loss, but she insisted that she was leading until Comey sent his letter to Congress, which may have influenced voters that were on the line. The hearing drew some social media chuckles over Comey’s reference to Anthony Weiner, but Comey was dead serious about the subject matter, for his butt is on the line.
The FBI director has never seemed so animated and emphatic as he has while defending himself during his Senate hearing. If you’ve ever watched him during a press conference or even during his recent testimony on Russia, he usually keeps a pretty even tone, all business. Today, however, he delivered vibrant (and very visual) prose while explaining why he feels awful at possibly causing Hillary to lose, but he’d send that letter again:
“Look, this is terrible. 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. Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28 with me and stare at this and tell me what you would do. Would you speak, or would you conceal? And I could be wrong, but we honestly made a decision between those two choices that even in hindsight — and this has been one of the world’s most painful experiences — I would make the same decision …. Concealment, in my view, would have been catastrophic.”
Comey was answering to questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) over why he so publicly announced the probe to Congress, and he revealed that his team believed they’d found the missing Clinton emails from the first three months of her Secretary of State run. In the end — a few days before the election — Comey issued a statement that revealed, once again, that the FBI found that Clinton committed no crimes related to her private email server.
While there were plenty of factors (including basically ignoring large swaths of the Midwest, plus the Wikileaks email dumps) that Clinton lost the election, it’s almost a certainty that Comey’s letter had some effect. Was it enough to push Trump over the top? We’ll never know, and neither will James Comey.