Failed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claimed for months after her defeat that the FBI's reopened investigation into her emails cost her votes. Former FBI Director James Comey announced they were resurrecting the investigation just 11 days before the election.
“I was on the way to winning," she said in May 2017, "until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28th and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off. And the evidence for the intervening event is, I think, compelling, persuasive.”
"I respect her view," Comey said in response in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday. “I accept the criticism. It doesn’t change how I think about it though.”
Amanpour also asked Comey if he felt he was responsible for the election of Donald Trump. Comey said "sure" regrettably, yet hoped history would one day prove the FBI's actions were "irrelevant" to his victory.
.@camanpour: "Do you ever think that you might be responsible for the election of President Trump? Does that keep you up at night?"— CNN International (@cnni) April 2, 2019
Fmr. FBI Director James Comey: "Sure. I hope some day somebody proves that what we did was irrelevant." https://t.co/ORDGIqi9WT pic.twitter.com/RhhgokTaEU
While it turned out the new information didn’t change their judgment in respect to Clinton, he stood by the FBI's decision.
"My view, and the view of my team was, we cannot conceal from the American people that the investigation we told them, and fought to tell them, is done, is not done," Comey reasoned. "And the result could change. We just couldn’t do that."
Clinton's critics have pointed to several other factors that can explain her loss to Donald Trump. Namely, her avoiding swing states like Wisconsin, and her lackluster, impersonal persona on the campaign trail.
Comey remained FBI director after Trump's election, until the president fired him in May 2017. Comey has since written a book and gone on media tours accusing Trump of trying to persuade him to go easy on former national security advisor Michael Flynn and shut down the FBI's investigation on him. After that conversation, Comey distrusted the president and took notes during meetings. He leaked some of those memos to Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University.
Comey recently made himself a source of mockery after he tweeted a picture of himself wandering in the woods with the caption, "So many questions" after special counsel Robert Mueller finished his Russian collusion report. Mueller found no collusion between Trump and Russia. Comey said he accepts that conclusion and that Mueller must have reached it "in good faith."