During his first interview ahead of his book tour, former FBI Director James Comey spoke about his “uncomfortable feeling” about former Attorney General Loretta Lynch overseeing the Clinton email investigation.
Last year, Comey testified before Congress how Lynch wanted to refer to the email probe as a “matter” rather than a criminal investigation.
“Do you think she was doing that to protect Hillary Clinton?” ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos asked.
“I didn’t know,” Comey responded. “It worried me, gave me an uncomfortable feeling because the Clinton campaign had been trying to come up with other words to describe it.”
Comey then described what went behind his decision to have that July press conference just days after Loretta Lynch had a tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton in Arizona.
“I decided I have to step- as much as I like her, I have to step away from her and show the American people the FBI’s work separately,” Comey continued.
He dismissed critics for saying his press conference was about his ego as he described it as getting “shot a thousand times.”
“I actually thought, as bad as it will be for me personally, this is my obligation to protect the FBI and the Justice Department,” he told Stephanopoulos. “Given all that had gone on, the Attorney General of the United States could not credibly announce this result and if she did, it would do corrosive damage to the institutions of justice.”
“Can you assure people that the Obama Justice Department was not protecting Hillary Clinton?” Stephanopoulos asked?
“Yes,” Comey declared. “The FBI drove this investigation and we did it in a competent and an independent way. I would bet my life on that.”
Later, he described the inner struggle he faced when he opened the email probe just days before the 2016 election after thousands of Clinton’s emails were found on Anthony Weiner‘s laptop. He said there wasn’t a door that read “no action” and he urged his critics to read his book to understand what he went through when writing the letter to Congress.
Comey also pushed back at what critics deemed as a “double standard” when it comes to reopening the Clinton probe while staying silent on the investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, which he called a “counterintelligence investigation” and stressing that the FBI wasn’t investigating Donald Trump.
“We had just started the investigation, didn’t know if we had anything, so it would have been brutally unfair to those people to talk about it and it would have jeopardized the investigation,” Comey added.
Watch the clips above, via ABC.