FBI's Comey defends pre-election Clinton email decison

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FBI Director James Comey is facing hours of questioning from a Senate committee - and he's bound to be asked about the bureau's investigation into potential coordination between President Donald Trump's election campaign and Russian Federation.

Asked whether the Justice Department had formulated charges against Assange over the release of classified USA documents and files, Comey said, "I don't want to confirm whether or not there are charges pending", noting only that "WikiLeaks is an important focus of our attention".

"The reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days".

Still, he said his decision to tell Congress that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had found new emails that could be relevant to Ms Clinton's private email server was not an easy one. Not doing so amounted to "concealment", which he said would have been "catastrophic".

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

During testimony on Capitol Hill before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey said "a number of things" had caused him to worry that Department of Justice leadership "could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the American people's confidence in the justice system".

The line of questioning is similar to questions House Republicans pressed Comey on during the House Intelligence Committee hearing in March. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, right, and the committee's ranking member Sen. Comey "was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds", he said. They will nearly always call us before they publish classified information and say, 'Is there anything about this that is going to put lives in danger?' " Comey said.

James Comey was speaking publicly for the first time about his decision to reveal that the bureau was re-opening the investigation into Hillary Clinton over her private email server. Comey confirmed in March the FBI was investigating possible collusion between Trump surrogates and Russian Federation.

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But Comey said that other than confirming the Clinton investigation existed, he did not discuss it until after it concluded past year.

While warning that "no agreement can be imposed by the USA or any other nation", he said he would "love to be a mediator arbitrator, or facilitator for the peace process".

The Department of Justice has long avoided prosecuting "newsgathering and legitimate news reporting" as a criminal act, Comey said. A man who says he doesn't want him or his agency to generate headlines in fact generated plenty of them when, in March, he confirmed to a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the FBI is investigating connections between the Russian government and Trump's campaign.

This story has corrected the Comey quote about feeling nauseous from "slightly" to "mildly".

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