The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have officially launched their investigation into former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, trying to get to the bottom of whether she assured the Hillary Clinton campaign that the FBI probe into Clinton’s emails wouldn’t go too far.
The Judiciary panel announced Friday it had sent letters to Lynch and other officials — the opening bid in what Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said last week would be separate investigations into the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and whether the Obama administration attempted to influence FBI investigations.
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The letters announced Friday are signed by Grassley and his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, along with leaders of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and ranking Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
The senators are seeking answers about a Russian intelligence memo — which was obtained by the FBI — that suggested Lynch had assured a member of the Clinton campaign, Amanda Renteria, that the investigation into Clinton’s emails would not go too far.
The existence of the Russian intelligence memo was first disclosed in April by The New York Times, which said it played a role in Comey’s decision last year to bypass the normal chain of command and make a public announcement that the FBI was not recommending criminal charges against Clinton. He reportedly was worried that the Justice Department’s credibility could be called into question if the announcement came from Lynch, and Russia later leaked the document.
New details about the intelligence memo came to light in a Washington Post story last month that said U.S. intelligence officials believe it might be unreliable or even a fake.
Renteria and others involved in the issue told the Post they did not know each other and had never gotten such an assurance from Lynch.
Robert Raben, a spokesman for Lynch, said Friday that the former attorney general would “cooperate fully with this inquiry and respond directly to the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
“Ms. Lynch is a committed public servant who has dedicated much of her career to the Department of Justice and led the Department as Attorney General in the fair and impartial administration of justice,” Raben said in a statement.
The letters announced Friday seek information from Lynch, Renteria and others about whether they were ever in contact with the FBI or each other about the issue.
Grassley previously requested a copy of all FBI documents that reference the Russian intelligence document, but has not gotten it.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.