Former FBI director James Comey said in an interview that he revealed the reopening of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails in part because he expected her to win the election.
Comey, whose upcoming book examines other things the events surrounding President Donald Trump’s election, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he was influenced by the assumption that Clinton would win.
In an interview clip aired Sunday morning, Stephanopoulos asked directly whether Comey disclosed the FBI’s actions to Congress because he thought Clinton’s lead over Trump was secure.
"At some level, was the decision to reveal influenced by your assumption that Hillary Clinton was going to win and concerned that if she wins, this comes out weeks later, that is taken by her opponents as a sign she's an illegitimate president?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"It must have been," Comey replied. "I don't remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been, because I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump. And so I’m sure that it was a factor."
He explained his actions were based on the idea that it would damage the legitimacy of Clinton’s presidency if the reopening of the investigation came to light only after she was elected.
"I don't remember spelling it out, but it had to have been—that she's going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she'll be illegitimate the moment she's elected, the moment this comes out," Comey said.
Trump criticized Comey on Twitter Sunday for incorporating Clinton's poll numbers into his calculation about the investigation, which Comey describes in his book.
"Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe," Trump wrote. "In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!"
The reopening of the investigation occurred when Clinton aide Huma Abedin's estranged husband Anthony Weiner had his laptop seized by the FBI. The laptop contained emails with confidential information, but the FBI concluded the law was not violated.
Comey’s book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, will come out Tuesday.