Comey: 'really bad' vs. 'catastrophic' options in Clinton emails

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FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday he believed it would have been "catastrophic" to keep Congress in the dark about new developments in the Hillary Clinton email investigation that emerged close to Election Day.

FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday he believed it would have been "catastrophic" to keep Congress in the dark about new developments in the Hillary Clinton email investigation, including the discovery of classified emails on the laptop of disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., that emerged close to Election Day.

An FBI investigation into Weiner and his estranged wife and Clinton aide Huma Abedin's email exchange was closed after "we couldn't prove any criminal intent," Comey said.

In the most impassioned and public defense of how he handled this case, Comey said it made him feel "mildly nauseous" to think his actions in October could have influenced the race won by Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Clinton.

But he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI cannot take into account how its actions might either benefit or harm politicians.

"I can't consider for a second whose political futures will be affected and in what way," Comey said. "We have to ask ourselves what is the right thing to do and then do it."

Speaking at times with a raised voice, Comey said he faced two difficult decisions when agents told him they found emails potentially connected to the Clinton case on a laptop belonging to Weiner, who was married to Abedin.

"Thousands and thousands of Hillary Clinton's emails were being forwarded to this Anthony Weiner fella's laptop... some of which were classified," testified Comey.

"Do you agree with me that Anthony Weiner 2016 should not have access to classified actions?" asked Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C.

"Yes, that's a fair statement," Comey responded. "I don't believe that at the time they found that on his laptop he had proper clearance."

"For him to get it should be a crime. Someone should be prosecuted for Anthony Weiner having classified information," Graham said. "I just wonder how he can get classified information and that can't be a crime by somebody."

Comey said he knew it was unorthodox to alert Congress to that discovery 11 days before Americans picked a new president and admitted that was a "really bad" option. But he said he decided that keeping silent would be "catastrophic," especially when he had testified under oath that the investigation had been concluded.

"I sat there that morning and could not see a door labeled 'No action here,"' Comey said.

In 20111, Weiner resigned his seat representing a New York City district in Congress over sexually explicit texts and social media posts to various women.

Abedin forwarded emails to the laptop for printing, Comey testified.

Federal authorities began investigating Weiner after an online news outlet, The Daily Mail, published an interview with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl who said she had exchanged sexually explicit messages with him over several months. The girl said that during a Skype chat Weiner had asked her to undress and touch herself.

With the Associated Press