FBI director James Comey said he’s “mildly nauseous” about the possibility that his announcement about reopening an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails influenced the outcome of the election.
“This was terrible. It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election,” Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. “Even in hindsight, and this has been one of the world’s most painful experiences, I would make the same decision.”
On October 28, 2016, 11 days before the election, Comey publicly announced the FBI was reopening a probe into Clinton’s emails after closing the investigation in July.
He went into more detail about his decision in his testimony, explaining why he decided to announce the reopening of the FBI’s investigation. He said on October 27, a team presented him with evidence that thousands of previously undiscovered Clinton emails were found on former congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Comey authorized them to get a search warrant for the emails.
“And then I faced a choice,” he said. “I’ve lived my entire career by the tradition that if you can possibly avoid it, you avoid any action in the run up to an election that might have an impact, whether it’s a dogcatcher election or President of the United States. But I sat there that morning and 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.’… ‘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, between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team, we gotta walk into the world of really bad.”
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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.Rogers@time.com