Hillary Clinton says her victory would have been 'a really big deal' for women

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Hillary Clinton tells CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour her victory in the 2016 presidential election would have been "a really big deal" for women. (Women for Women International)

 Opinion writer  

So now it can be told: Bill Clinton cost his wife the presidency.
Almost three hours into a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on 
Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey shed new light on his decision to
 go public about his agency’s investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails,
 first in July 2016 and again, with devastating effect, in late October, 11 
days before the election.
The specific reason he cited: Bill Clinton’s decision to board Attorney
 General Loretta Lynch’s plane in late June, when their planes were 
both on a tarmac in Phoenix. “The capper was — and I’m not picking
 on Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who I like very much — but her 
meeting with President Clinton on that airplane was the capper for
 me,” Comey said. Comey decided to “step away” and announce, 
without consulting the Justice Department, that Hillary Clinton
 shouldn’t be charged.
In Comey’s telling, this public announcement in turn required Comey 
to speak up again in October, when more emails were found. “Having
 done that [the public announcement] and then having testified 
repeatedly under oath that we’re done,” he said, “it would be a 
disastrous, catastrophic concealment” not to go public on Oct. 28 with
 the newly discovered emails.
It’s a tragic chain of events: If Bill Clinton hadn’t boarded that plane
 in June, Comey might not have spoken out in July, which means he 
wouldn’t have felt compelled to speak up again in October, which 
means Hillary Clinton would have won the election in November.

Comey describes how Clinton emails were 'forwarded' to Anthony Weiner

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FBI Director James Comey responded, May 3, before the Senate Judiciary Committee
 to a question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on his announcement about re-opening
 the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server days before the election. 
These were Comey’s fullest comments to date on his indefensible 
decision to announce on the eve of the election that he was reopening 
the investigation into Clinton, almost certainly handing the election
 to Donald Trump. It wasn’t a compelling explanation, but, knowing 
the self-righteousness and independence that drives the FBI director, 
it seemed genuine. He made a disastrous decision but for reasons that 
weren’t entirely wrong: Bill Clinton’s clumsiness created a vacuum of
 credibility, and Comey, self-appointed guardian of the justice system,
 stepped in to fill the void.
Comey said he was physically ill over his role in the election, which 
Trump and Hillary Clinton are again arguing about this week. “Look,
 this is terrible,” he told the senators. “It makes me mildly nauseous to 
think that we might have had some impact on the election.”
If Comey is mildly nauseated by the thought that he had “some impact,”
 he should have his face over the toilet bowl when he considers that he
 handed Trump the presidency. Certainly, there were many factors 
behind Clinton’s loss. But in an election this close there can be no doubt 
that Comey’s action was enough to swing the outcome.
Comey’s performance Wednesday was maddening at times. He was 
unfailingly pious. “Lordy this has been painful,” he pleaded. “But I think 
I have done the right thing at each turn. . . . The honest answer — I don’t 
mean to sound arrogant — is I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”
And Comey was full of inconsistencies when he tried to explain why he 
spoke out about Clinton’s case during the campaign yet remained 
adamantly silent about the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s Russia ties. 
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), top Democrat on the panel, shook her head
 in disbelief when Comey maintained that “I didn’t make a public
 announcement” on Oct. 28 that he was reopening the Clinton
 investigation. “I sent a private letter” to Congress, he said — as if it
 wouldn’t immediately leak.
Comey proclaimed that “I’ve lived my entire career by the tradition that 
if you can possibly avoid it, you avoid any action in the run-up to an 
election that might have an impact.” Yet he acknowledged an aide told 
him “what you’re about to do may help elect Donald Trump president,”
 and Comey said he considered “not for a moment” that huge impact.
The director asserted that he had only “two doors” on Oct. 28 — speak
 or “conceal.” Thus did he ignore the obvious third option: Let his agents 
find out whether there was anything worthwhile in the new batch of
 emails (there wasn’t) before throwing the election into chaos.
But there was something that rang true in Comey’s account. Dating 
back to his showdown at John Ashcroft’s hospital bed during the Bush 
administration, he has been the incorruptible exemplar of justice. “I have
 lived my whole life caring about the credibility and the integrity of the
 criminal-justice process,” he proclaimed Wednesday.
His time as FBI director, a position independent by design, no doubt
 reinforced his instincts. And after Bill Clinton climbed onto Lynch’s 
plane last year, Comey told the senators, he decided “the best chance
 of the American people believing in the system” was for him to go
Comey’s intervention ultimately did the justice system worse harm. 
But at least we now know why he did it.