FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that he faced two choices in late October after FBI investigators told him they might have found new Hillary Clinton emails on a laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner. He could inform Congress about these potentially revelatory emails, which would be “really bad,” or he could keep quiet, which would be “catastrophic.”
“I could not see a door labeled ‘no action’ here. I could see two doors and they were both actions. One was labeled speak, the other was labeled conceal,” he said. “‘Speak’ would be really bad. There’s an election in 11 days. Lordy, that would be really bad. Concealing, in my view, would be catastrophic. Not just to the FBI, but well beyond. And honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team we’ve got to walk into the world of really bad.”
As Comey saw it, he was restarting an investigation in a “hugely significant way.” These emails, FBI investigators told him, could have provided information on why Hillary Clinton set up a private email server in the first place.
Turns out, the emails changed nothing about the FBI’s investigation. But, as Clinton herself believes, the FBI’s announcement that the emails changed nothing about its investigation may have swung the election, as it fed into the narrative that Clinton was playing by another set of rules.
Comey did acknowledge that his announcement may have benefitted President Trump, but said that even knowing that, he would act the same. “It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had an impact on the election. But, honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision,” he said.