Comey Says AG Lynch Instructed To Call Clinton Email Probe A “Matter” Instead Of An “Investigation.”

Comey Says AG Lynch Instructed To Call Clinton Email Probe A “Matter” Instead Of An “Investigation.” March 31, 2023Leave a comment

The former director of the FBI, James Comey, has been accused by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. According to Lynch, Comey mischaracterized her comments by consistently alleging under oath that she had privately instructed him to call the Hillary Clinton email probe a “matter” rather than an “investigation.” Lynch, who had previously testified that Comey’s accusation left her “quite surprised,” made the comments during a joint closed-door session of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees last December. On Monday, a transcript of Lynch’s testimony was released by the ranking member for the House Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins. As multiple government reviews of potential misconduct within the FBI and Justice Department are going on, this episode marked the most recent public dispute to break out among the high-level ex-Obama administration officials

During an under oath interview with the House Intelligence Committee in June of 2017, Comey explained that Lynch had pressured him to downplay how significant the Clinton email investigation in Septemeber 2015 really was. According to Comey, this occurred right before he was expected to be questioned about the investigation. Comey said Lynch’s actions led him to question her independence, and according to Comey, it led him to make the decision to hold a press conference in July of 2016 to announce the conclusions of the probe. According to Comey’s testimony, he said: “The attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me. That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude, ‘I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.’”

Comey continued by saying: “The Clinton campaign, at the time, was using all kind of euphemisms — security review, matters, things like that, for what was going on. We were getting to a place where the attorney general and I were both going to have to testify and talk publicly about. And I wanted to know, was she going to authorize us to confirm we had an investigation? … And she said, ‘Yes, but don’t call it that, call it a matter.’ And I said, ‘Why would I do that?’ And she said, ‘Just call it a matter.’” According to Comey, the secret meeting Lynch had with Bill Clinton on the airport tarmac in the summer of 2016 proved to him that Lynch lacked independence. But according to Lynch’s testimony from December, she explained that Comey had considerably mischaracterized the situation. When Lynch was asked if she had “ever” told Comey to call the investigation a “matter,” she responded by saying “I did not.”

Lynch continued by saying: “I have never instructed a witness as to what to say specifically. Never have, never will In the meeting that I had with the Director, we were discussing how best to keep Congress informed of progress and discuss requesting resources for the Department overall. We were going to testify separately. And the concern that both of us had in the meeting that I was having with him in September of 2015 was how to have that discussion without stepping across the Department policy of confirming or denying an investigation, separate policy from testifying.”

Lynch added: “Obviously, we wanted to testify fully, fulsomely, and provide the information that was needed, but we were not at that point, in September of 2015, ready to confirm that there was an investigation into the email matter — or deny it. We were sticking with policy, and that was my position on that. I didn’t direct anyone to use specific phraseology. When the Director asked me how to best to handle that, I said: What I have been saying is we have received a referral and we are working on the matter, working on the issue, or we have all the resources we need to handle the matter, handle the issue. So that was the suggestion that I made to him.”

When asked how she felt about Comey’s statements, Lynch said that she was shocked. “I was quite surprised that he characterized it in that way. We did have a conversation about it, so I wasn’t surprised that he remembered that we met about it and talked about it. But I was quite surprised that that was his characterization of it, because that was not how it was conveyed to him, certainly not how it was intended.”

Jim Jordan, who was the chairman for the panel at the time, said: “Excuse me. Ms. Lynch, so in the meeting with the FBI Director you referred to the Clinton investigation as a matter — I just want to make sure I understand — but you did not instruct the Director when he testified in front of Congress to call it a matter. Is that accurate?”

Lynch responded by saying: “I said that I had been referring to — I had been using the phraseology. We’ve received a referral. Because we received a public referral, which we were confirming. And that is Department policy, that when we receive a public referral from any agency, that we confirm the referral but we neither confirm nor deny the investigation. That’s actually a standard DOJ policy.”

Lynch continued: “So in the meeting with the Director, which was, again, around September — I don’t recall the date — of 2015, it was very early in the investigation, I expressed the view that it was, in my opinion, too early for us to confirm that we had an investigation. At some point in the course of investigations, as you all know from your oversight, it becomes such common knowledge that we talk about it using the language of investigation and things, but at that point we had not done that and we were not confirming or denying it. We weren’t denying it at all. There was, just essentially, in my view, we were following the policy. And when the Director asked me about my thoughts, I said, yes, we had to be — we had to be completely cooperative and fulsome with Congress for both of us, and that we needed to provide as much information as we could on the issue of resources.”

Just last week, a dispute over which senior government officials were responsible for pushing the Steele dossier broke out. This argument came after Attorney General William Barr appointed a U.S. attorney to examine the origins of the Russian investigation and to determine whether or not the FBI and the DOJ’s actions were considered “lawful and appropriate.” Those sources that are close to the matter told Fox News that an email chain from late-2016 indicated that Comey told subordinates within the bureau that then-CIA Director John Brennan was insistent that the dossier was included within the intelligence community assessment on the interference from Russia, known as the ICA. But according to a statement given to Fox News, a former official from the CIA placed the blame solely on Comey.

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