FBI Director Jim Comey's wife Patrice Comey, had tried to stop him from announcing on 28 October 2016 that the agency was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.
"You can't do this this close to the election. You can't do this to a candidate," she told her husband, according to New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt.
Patrice Comey was interviewed by the journalist for his book "Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President", excerpted by NBC News on Wednesday. The volume was published in September.
The FBI required a warrant for the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, to proceed with its reopened investigation into the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton operating a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
For this, James Comey told his wife, Congress needed to be notified.
According to The New York Times reporter, Comey had argued that unless this was done, the impression would be that the FBI had concealed elements of the investigation from the Republican-dominated legislative body.
"What is our relationship with Congress if we're going to lie to them and not say something?" he queried, according to Schmidt.
The FBI chief is claimed to have admitted to his wife that he believed he had no choice in the matter.
"The alternative is a f***ing disaster… I am screwed no matter what happens. If I disclose this, I'm screwed. If I don't disclose this, I'm screwed. And so it's freeing in a way," the FBI director reportedly said to Patrice Comey.
Later in his book "A Higher Loyalty," published in 2018, Comey defended his decision to tell Congress about the reopening of the Clinton emails probe, while regretting not clarifying the circumstances to the public at the time.
While Jim Comey didn't vote in the 2016 election, under the belief that it was incompatible with his role as FBI director, his spouse had cast her ballot for Hillary Clinton, having "waited decades to vote for a woman presidential candidate" and believing "Trump was an existential threat and must never sit in the Oval Office", according to Schmidt.
‘Blast from the Past’
The issue of Hillary Clinton operating a private email server instead of one protected by the government while working as secretary of state had resurfaced amid the 2016 presidential election campaign, when Hillary Clinton was the Democratic presidential nominee, pitted against Republican Donald Trump.
Earlier, in July 2015, the FBI launched an investigation into "potential unauthorised transmission and storage of classified information" on Clinton's email server, revealing that a substantial number of her correspondences contained classified information.
Some officials and members of Congress had contended that Clinton's use of a private messaging system violated federal law, yet at the end of a year-long probe, then-FBI Director James Comey recommending that no charges be brought against Clinton in July 2016, while her actions were deemed “extremely careless.”
However, on 28 October 2016, eleven days before the election, like a “blast from the past”, Comey notified Congress that the FBI had started looking into newly discovered emails pertinent to the closed investigation into the Democratic candidate’s private email server on a computer belonging to Anthony D. Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Allegations of inappropriate relationships with a 15-year-old girl had led the FBI to seize Weiner’s laptop.
Eventually, on 6 November 2016 the FBI advised against opening a criminal case against Clinton, merely describing her actions as "extremely careless".
However, after the election, which Republican Donald Trump won on Electoral College vote, James Comey’s decision to announce the investigation just days before the voters went to the polls, was widely blamed as the chief reason for Hillary Clinton’s defeat.