FBI Director James Comey distrusted former Attorney General Loretta Lynch because he believed she and other top Justice Department officials had political motives to hinder or downplay the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, a new report reveals.
According to the New York Times, Comey deployed a “go-it-alone strategy” during the investigation into Clinton because he thought Lynch and other Obama appointees would give Clinton, who was in the midst of a presidential campaign, “political cover.”
For example, during a fall 2015 meeting between Lynch, Comey and Comey’s team of advisers, Lynch instructed Comey to no longer use the word “investigation” when publicly talking about the FBI’s investigation into Clinton. Instead, Lynch suggested Comey use the word “matter.”
“I guess you’re the Federal Bureau of Matters now,” one of Comey’s advisers quipped after the meeting.
In addition, just one day after announcing they had received a criminal referral in regards to the FBI’s investigation against Clinton, Lynch’s DOJ revised a public statement to retract the word “criminal.” The DOJ revised their statement to say they received a referral “related to the potential compromise of classified information” — no mention of anything criminal.
Clinton would later seize on the happenstance by insisting that the FBI’s investigation into her and her private email server was not a “criminal investigation” — despite the fact that the FBI was treating her “matter” just like any other criminal investigation.
Later, Comey’s suspicions deepened when the FBI intercepted a document that potentially proved Lynch’s allegiance to Clinton.
From the Times:
During Russia’s hacking campaign against the United States, intelligence agencies could peer, at times, into Russian networks and see what had been taken. Early last year, F.B.I. agents received a batch of hacked documents, and one caught their attention.
The document, which has been described as both a memo and an email, was written by a Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far, according to several former officials familiar with the document…
If Ms. Lynch announced that the case was closed, and Russia leaked the document, Mr. Comey believed it would raise doubts about the independence of the investigation.
And last June, just one day before investigators were scheduled to depose Clinton, Lynch met with Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, on the tarmac of Phoenix’s airport. That meeting, which many believe is where Lynch struck a deal with Clinton, was the final straw for Comey.
Just days later, he paraded himself in front of the nation to announce the FBI wouldn’t recommend criminal charges against Clinton, despite confirming that Clinton essentially broke the law and anyone else, given the evidence, would have been charged with a crime. Still, Comey excoriated Clinton during the press conference, noting her utter carelessness in dealing with classified information.
For Comey, the investigation was over, until in late Sept. 2016 the FBI discovered potentially new Clinton emails during the course of a separate criminal investigation into Anthony Weiner, husband to Huma Abiden, Clinton’s closest confidant.
Comey felt he needed to inform Congress of the newest revelation. After all, he promised to keep Congress informed. In the end, the new emails didn’t provide any new evidence and Comey again wrote Congress to inform them that their investigation into Clinton was over.
Clinton, her campaign and Democrats later blamed Comey’s late October letter to Congress as the reason she lost to Donald Trump, ignoring her own downfalls as a candidate and the downfalls of her campaign.
But the Times story, if it makes anything clear, it’s this: That Comey made every decision he did in the interest of the law and ensuring that his agency remained apolitical, despite how things may have appeared publicly, and that job was made increasingly difficult because of his distrust of Lynch, who likely had political motives to see Clinton take the White House.