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FBI Director 'mildly nauseous' to think FBI affected 2016 election

May 03, 2017 - 2:30 pm

(WASHINGTON) -- FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday it makes him "mildly nauseous" to think the bureau might have influenced the 2016 presidential election, responding to questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"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 in his testimony, which was scheduled as part of an annual oversight hearing.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Comey about his decision to send a letter to Congress on Oct. 28, notifying lawmakers that the FBI was going to investigate emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton that had been found during an unrelated investigation. Before that, Comey said the investigation into Clinton’s server had been completed.

"I've lived my entire career by the tradition that if you can possibly avoid it, you avoid any action in a run-up to an election that might have an impact, whether it's a dog catcher election or president of the United States, but I sat there that morning, and I could not see a door labeled 'no action here,'" Comey said. "I could see two doors -- one was labeled 'speak,' the other was labeled 'conceal.'"

He went on, "Concealing in my view would be catastrophic, not just to the FBI but well beyond."

Comey called it a "hard choice" and "one of the most painful decisions" he's had to make.

He also revealed that his bureau staff had a "great debate" on whether to notify Congress, which they did via a private letter.

The FBI concluded in early November, a few days before the election, that the new batch of emails had not changed its previous conclusion that Clinton should not be charged for her private email server as secretary of state.

There was a lot of criticism of Comey from Democrats who felt his actions cost Clinton the election.

"I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey's letter on Oct. 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off," Clinton said Tuesday at a Women for Women event in New York.

But Comey was also criticized by former Justice Department officials for breaking with the department's protocol and longstanding practice of avoiding investigative actions so close to an election that could potentially influence the outcome.

Late Tuesday night, President Trump went after Clinton and Comey on Twitter, saying the "best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton is that he gave her a pass for many bad deeds!"

Comey last testified in front of Congress in March. Comey answered questions for the first time about Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and Trump's unsubstantiated allegations that before his inauguration, he had been wiretapped by then-President Obama.

Comey confirmed that the FBI is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and "the nature of any links" or connections between Trump campaign associates and the Kremlin.

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