But even in hindsight I think we chose the course most consistent with institutional values. An announcement at that point by the attorney general, especially one without the transparency our traditions permitted, would have done corrosive damage to public faith in the investigation and the institutions of justice. As painful as the whole experience has been, I still believe that. And nothing in the inspector general’s report makes me think we did the wrong thing.
Similarly, I never imagined the F.B.I. would face a choice in late October 2016 either to tell Congress we had restarted the email investigation in a significant way or to conceal that fact. But to have concealed it would have meant to hide vital information: That what I and others had said publicly and under oath to Congress was no longer true. I chose to speak and tell the truth.
I was not certain I was right about those things at the time. That’s the nature of hard decisions; they don’t allow for certainty. With the added benefit of hindsight, the inspector general sees some things differently. My team believed the damage of concealing the reopening of our investigation would have been catastrophic to the institution. The inspector general weighs it differently, and that’s O.K., even though I respectfully disagree.
I encouraged this intensive review when I was F.B.I. director and continued to support its work after I was fired. The inspector general’s conclusions are important. But the real, historical value of the report is its collection of facts, which, as John Adams said, “are stubborn things.” If a future F.B.I. leadership team ever faces a similar situation — something I pray never happens — it will have the benefit of this important document.
This is what institutions devoted to the rule of law and accountability look like. They look back at their hardest decisions and collect the facts, and are transparent with the world about those facts and decisions. The leaders of those institutions are best served by welcoming that oversight and that process of second-guessing. That’s why I urged the investigation in the first place.
As F.B.I. director, I wanted a second set of eyes on the agonizing decisions we made during the 2016 election, knowing full well the inspector general’s office could draw different conclusions. I also was confident that even if it disagreed with our decisions, it would find the F.B.I. team made them without regard