Law & the Courts

Loretta Lynch Claps Back at James Comey

FBI director James Comey with attorney general Loretta Lynch (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Former FBI Director James Comey traded barbs with key players from both sides of the aisle this week as his explosive new book hit the shelves.

While most of Comey’s hits were aimed at the president, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was particularly upset about his portrayal of a September 2015 meeting he had with her.

The fired FBI chief wrote that Lynch ordered him to water down the rhetoric surrounding the Clinton email investigation and call it a “matter,” the language the Clinton campaign was using.

“I have known James Comey almost 30 years,” Lynch wrote in a Sunday statement. “Throughout his time as director we spoke regularly about some of the most sensitive issues in law enforcement and national security. If he had any concerns regarding the email investigation, classified or not, he had ample opportunities to raise them with me both privately and in meetings. He never did.”

“The attorney general seemed to be directing me to align with the Clinton campaign strategy. Her ‘just do it’ response to my question indicated that she had no legal or procedural justification for her request, at least not one grounded in our practices or traditions. Otherwise, I assume, she would have said so,” Comey writes in “A Higher Loyalty.”

Fellow FBI employees who heard Lynch’s request agreed with Comey that her motivation was political, he claimed, one even making a light-hearted crack about the attorney general’s comment.

“I know the FBI attendees at our meeting saw her request as overtly political when we talked about it afterward. So did at least one of Lynch’s senior leaders. George Toscas, then the number-three person in the department’s National Security Division and someone I liked, smiled at the FBI team as we filed out, saying sarcastically, ‘Well you are the Federal Bureau of Matters,’” Comey says.

Lynch, however, rejects this narrative, saying she recommended the language of “matter” rather than “investigation” in order to preserve the confidentiality of the FBI’s work.

“The Justice Department’s handling of the Clinton email investigation under my leadership … was led by a team of non-partisan career prosecutors whose integrity cannot be overstated and whom I trusted to assess the facts and make a recommendation — one that I ultimately accepted because I thought the evidence and law warranted it,” Lynch said.

“Everyone who works for the Department of Justice has an obligation to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the work of the Department,” she continued. “That is why, at the critical early stages of this case, I followed the Department’s long-standing policy of neither confirming nor denying the fact of an ongoing investigation. This policy both predates my tenure in the department and will live on long after the current debate is over. It neither misleads nor misinforms, but instead both protects investigations and guarantees equal treatment of those under scrutiny, whether well-known or unknown. Any suggestion that I invoked this bedrock policy for any other reason is simply false.”

Lynch also denied discussing the investigation with Clinton campaign operatives despite the infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton that Lynch has downplayed as “small talk.” Critics worried Clinton could have influenced Lynch during the private meeting with regard to his wife’s email investigation.

“Throughout the process I did what I always do: rise above politics and uphold the law. At no time did I ever discuss any aspect of the investigation with anyone from the Clinton campaign or the DNC,” Lynch said.

Most Popular

White House

What Is Hillary Clinton Thinking?

When Homer Simpson looks in the mirror, he sees ripped chest muscles and arms like the trunks of beech trees. When Hillary Clinton looks in the mirror, she sees America’s sweetheart. She thinks: America adores me. She thinks: America already chose me to be president once! She thinks: Everyone is comparing me ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Grassley’s Kangaroo Court

So now it looks like next Thursday. On Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s manifestly meritorious nomination to the Supreme Court, what was supposed to be the vote out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this past Thursday now appears to be sliding into a hearing to be held next Thursday. Or, who knows, maybe a Thursday ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Censure Dianne Feinstein

Regardless of the fate of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, the Senate should censure the ranking Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein. Her deception and maneuvering, condemned across the political spectrum, seriously interfered with the Senate’s performance of its constitutional duty to ... Read More

Are We on the Verge of Civil War?

Americans keep dividing into two hostile camps. It seems the country is back to 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, rather than in 2018, during the greatest age of affluence, leisure, and freedom in the history of civilization. The ancient historian Thucydides called the civil discord that tore apart the ... Read More