So much so, that Comey wrote in his new book that he anxious the FBI, Justice Department and Clinton's potential presidency would face intense criticism if he hadn't announced the reopening of her private email server probe less than two weeks before the election.
Comey used the interview with George Stephanopoulos to unleash a series of critiques of the man who fired him, President Donald Trump, but also mentioned a heretofore untold scandal involving Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
"The American people needed and deserved transparency", he says, adding that he believed he had the "independent reputation" to "take the hits" that would protect public trust in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Comey ended up not recommending charges, but told Congress that he was reopening the probe just several days before the election because messages were discovered in an unrelated probe into Anthony Weiner, the husband of Clinton's right-hand woman Huma Abedin.
Trump initially pointed to Comey's handling of the Clinton investigation as the reason for his dismissal, though he later acknowledged that he had considered the FBI's probe into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation as part of his decision to fire the top cop. That episode convinced Comey that he needed to step forward with his own public accounting of the email server investigation.
The government learned of this information in 2016. "It is entirely possible my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls".
"James Comey has done something remarkable", he said. "Still, the bitterly fought episode, parsing word choices, was only a small taste of what was to come, and many within the F.B.I. knew it", he wrote. The former Secretary of State and her supporters have blamed Comey's 11th hour disclosure of the investigation for her loss.
"It must have been", Comey responds, adding, "I don't remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been. My use of "extremely careless" naturally sounded to many ears like the statutory language-'grossly negligent'-even though thoughtful lawyers could see why it wasn't the same".