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FBI director James Comey on Wednesday defended his decision to notify Congress in the days before the US presidential election last year that new information had surfaced in its probe of then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, although he admitted it made him “mildly nauseous” to consider its possible impact on the election’s outcome.

The FBI director — who has faced intense flack and an inquiry over the decision, which some have claimed helped Donald Trump beat Mrs Clinton — was grilled by members of a US Senate panel on Wednesday morning over the letter, in which he informed lawmakers that new emails had been discovered that “appear to be pertinent to the investigation” it had completed in July.

“It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election,” Mr Comey said on Wednesday, adding that even in hindsight, it “wouldn’t have changed the decision” between speaking up about the emails discovered on a computer belonging to the husband of one of Mrs Clinton’s top aides. Not doing so, he said “would require an act of concealment in my view.”

“I can’t consider for a second whose political fortunes would be affected in what way”, Mr Comey said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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