In a public hearing Wednesday morning, Senator Dianne Feinstein confronted FBI Director James Comey over his decision to issue a letter that ‘almost certainly’ changed the outcome of the election.
Comey claimed that while the FBI had not read any emails on the laptop belonging to Andrew Weiner, they had had looked at metadata which indicated that the laptop contained “thousands” of emails forwarded from Hillary Clinton, including early emails that originated from Clinton’s blackberry, which were not found on her private server. Comey claimed that the agents that approached him concerning the emails assured him that examining the emails could not be completed before the election.
This, said Comey, left him in a position where “taking no action” was not possible. Instead, he could only “speak or conceal.” That, according to Comey, left him with no choice but to issue a letter to the Senate committee just 11 days before the election.
Feinstein: “You took a gamble that there was something there that would invalidate her candidacy. There wasn’t.”
Comey: “I couldn’t consider for a second whose political fortunes could be affected.”
Comey also says that one of his team warned him that his actions “risked getting Donald Trump elected” but said, proudly, that he could not consider that as part of his decision. However, despite maintaining that the election couldn’t affect his decision, Comey used the claim that the team could not complete their task before the election to explain why he could not wait in issuing his letter. In fact, the investigation was completed before the election.
The inherit contradiction wasn’t lost on Feinstein, who pointed out that Comey, even if he felt the Senate had to be notified, could have done so by calling the committee into a classified session rather than issue a letter which, she noted, became public within hours of its issue.
Later, Senator Patrick Leahy challenged Comey over his decision to make an open statement on the Clinton investigation while not disclosing the investigation into collusion between the Trump election team and the Russian government. This solicited Comey’s most incredible response of the morning.
Comey: “I treated both investigations under the same principles … people forget we would not confirm the Hillary Clinton email investigation existed for the first three months.”