In his testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on June 8, 2017, former FBI Director James B. Comey said Obama’s attorney general Loretta Lynch had tried to shape the way Comey described the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, to “align with” and “mirror” the way Hillary’s campaign was describing the investigation.
Stephen Dinan reports for The Washington Times, June 23, 2017, that Comey told the committee:
“At one point, [Lynch] 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 are to close this case credibly.”
Despite his discomfort, Comey said he agreed to the language prescribed by Lynch. Comey also hinted at Lynch’s other behaviors “which I cannot talk about yet” which led to his concerns about Lynch’s ability to make impartial decisions. That was one reason why Comey, last year, bucked Justice Department tradition in making public the FBI’s findings on Hillary.
Now, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has opened a probe into exactly Loretta Lynch’s interference in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton, the committee’s chairman Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) announced yesterday.
The probe is a bi-partisan undertaking.
Sen. Grassley said in his press release:
“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham and Ranking Member Sheldon Whitehouse sought information about alleged political interference by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch during the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The bipartisan inquiry comes as the Judiciary Committee is examining the circumstances surrounding the removal of James Comey as FBI Director.
In April, The New York Times reported that the FBI came into possession of a batch of hacked documents, one of which was said to be authored by a “Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far.” Chairman Grassley then requested a copy of the document from the Justice Department, which has failed to respond. A month later, The Washington Post reported similar facts and provided further details about individuals involved in these communications. The Post reported that the email in question, sent by then-chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Leonard Benardo of the Open Society Foundations, indicated that Lynch had privately assured Clinton campaign staffer Amanda Renteria that the FBI’s investigation wouldn’t ‘go too far.’
(Note: The Open Society Foundations, formerly the Open Society Institute, is an international grantmaking network founded by George Soros.)
Comey was reportedly concerned that the communication would raise doubts about the investigation’s independence and began discussing plans to announce the end of the Clinton email investigation rather than simply referring it to the Department for a prosecutorial decision. Comey’s extraordinary action to announce the end of the investigation was a break from Justice Department protocol, and was later cited as justification for his removal from the FBI.
In their letters to Benardo, Open Society Foundations’ General Counsel Gail Scovell, Renteria and former Attorney General Lynch, the Senators seek details about the reported communication, copies of any related documents and whether the FBI contacted them to investigate the alleged communication.
The reports come amidst numerous allegations of political inference in controversial and high-profile investigations spanning the current and previous administrations. The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the FBI and Justice Department and is obliged to oversee any potential misconduct or inappropriate political influence at these agencies.”
Full text of the letters can be found at the following links: