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Comey: Lynch directed me to downplay Clinton email probe

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies in front of a U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Former FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch directed him to refer to the FBI’s probe into former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as a “matter,” not an “investigation.”

During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said that Lynch attempted to have him downplay the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business as secretary of state.

“At one point the attorney general had directed me not to call it an 'investigation,' but to call it a 'matter,' which confused me and concerned me,” Comey said.

Comey pointed to that conversation as one of the reasons he went public about the Clinton probe, as well as a meeting that took place between Lynch and former President Bill Clinton.

That meeting between the former president and the attorney general, he said, influenced his choice “in an ultimately conclusive way.”

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

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