Senate investigates whether Loretta Lynch interfered in Clinton email investigation

Loretta Lynch
Attorney General Loretta Lynch delivers her farewell address at
the Justice Department in January 2017.

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have opened a
bipartisan inquiry into whether former Attorney General
Loretta Lynch interfered in the FBI’s investigation into Hillary
Clinton’s use of a private email server. 

The senators — Republicans Lindsay Graham and Chuck
Grassley and Democrats Dianne Feinstein
and Sheldon Whitehouse — were prompted in part by
former FBI Director James Comey’s June Senate testimony, in which
he said that he was “confused” and “concerned” by Lynch’s
treatment of the investigation. 

Comey said
that Lynch’s widely criticized meeting on an
airport tarmac in Pheonix with former Bill Clinton in June 2016,
as well as her request that he call the investigation a “matter,”
convinced him that he had to take action to prove the Clinton
investigation was being fairly conducted.

“In an ultimately conclusive way, that was the thing that capped
it for me,” Comey said. “I had to do something separately to
protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both
the FBI and the Justice Department.”

Although both Lynch and Bill Clinton have denied they discussed
the email probe during their private meeting and instead made
small talk about golf and Clinton’s grandchildren, both received
intense blowback over creating the appearance of impropriety
during an ongoing investigation.

That backlash ultimately led Lynch to say she would accept the
findings of the FBI and career prosecutors who were investigating
Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was
secretary of state.

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 in his June 8 testimony that Lynch’s alleged
inference gave him a “queasy feeling.”

On June 11, Feinstein
told CNN
that while she could not say whether Lynch asked
Comey to provide “semantic cover” to the Clinton campaign, she
“would feel queasy, too” if she had been in Comey’s shoes. 

In a Friday afternoon statement, Graham’s spokesperson wrote that
the senators were also prompted by two reports: one that a
Democratic operative had assured colleagues that Lynch would
prevent the email investigation from “going too far,” and another
report that then-chair of the Democratic National Committee
Debbie Wasserman Schultz told Leonard Benardo of the Open
Society Foundations that Lynch had told Clinton campaign staffer
Amanda Renteria as much. 

The senators sent letters to Benardo, OSF General Counsel Gail
Scovell, Renteria, and Lynch asking for more information. 

“Graham and the Senators seek details about the reported
communication, copies of any related documents and whether the
FBI contacted them to investigate the alleged communication,”
Graham’s spokesperson wrote in a statement on Friday

Michelle Mark contributed reporting.