WASHINGTON: Former FBI chief James Comey said his belief that Hillary Clinton would be elected president in 2016 "was a factor" in his handling of the probe into her misuse of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Comey, who was fired by Trump last year, told ABC that a desire to ensure Clinton's victory was seen as legitimate played a role in his decision to announce the bureau would reopen the investigation, made 11 days before the election.
"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 said in the interview, to be aired Sunday.
"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," he added.
His comments echoed a quote from his memoir, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership" in which he said it was "entirely possible" his concerns over Clinton's legitimacy "bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls."
Clinton has previously noted she believes Comey's announcement played a part in her losing out on the presidency.
"After the Comey letter, my momentum was stopped," she told NPR in late 2017.
"My numbers dropped, and we were scrambling to try to put it back together, and we ran out of time."