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

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


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.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.