Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch has flatly accused former FBI Director James Comey of mischaracterizing her statements by repeatedly alleging, under oath, that Lynch privately instructed him to call the Hillary Clinton email probe a “matter” instead of an “investigation.”
Lynch, who testified that Comey’s claim left her “quite surprised,” made the dramatic remarks at a joint closed-door session of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees last December. A transcript of her testimony was released on Monday by House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins, R-Ga.
The episode marked the latest public dispute to break out among high-level ex-Obama administration officials, as multiple government reviews of potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct continue.
In a June 2017 interview under oath with the House Intelligence Committee, Comey said Lynch had pressed him to downplay the significance of the Clinton email review in September 2015, just before a congressional hearing in which Comey was expected to be asked about the investigation. Comey said the moment led him to question her independence and contributed to his decision to unilaterally hold a press conference in July 2016 announcing the conclusions of the probe.
“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,” Comey testified. “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.’”