Attorney General Loretta Lynch advised FBI Director James Comey not to send a letter to Congress informing them of the discovery of new emails related to the FBI’s criminal probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to a report from the New Yorker.
A “well-informed” administration official told the magazine that Lynch “expressed her preference” that Comey stick with the longstanding Department of Justice policy of not taking actions that could potentially influence the outcome of an election.
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“You don’t do this,” one former senior Justice Department official exclaimed. “It’s aberrational. It violates decades of practice.” The reason, according to the former official, who asked not to be identified because of ongoing cases involving the department, “is because it impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there’s no finding by a court, or in this instance even an indictment.”
Still, Comey said in a letter to FBI staffers that he felt obligated to inform Congress of the bureau’s newest findings because he told Congress during testimony in July that he would keep them informed about the investigation.
“Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed,” Comey wrote in his memo. “I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.”
“At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression,” he added. “In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season there is significant risk of being misunderstood.”