Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch during congressional testimony last year disputed an accusation made by former FBI Director James Comey that painted her as a biased investigator during the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.
What's the background?
While testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017, Comey claimed under oath that Lynch instructed him in September 2015 to refer to the Clinton email investigation as a "matter" rather than an "investigation."
Comey implied that Lynch's instruction was meant to protect Clinton, who at the time was considered to be the overall presidential front-runner.
"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 testified.
He explained that Lynch's actions that day, in addition to her private tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton in June 2016, caused him to make many of the decisions he did during the course of the Clinton investigation.
What did Lynch tell Congress?
Testifying at a joint closed-door session of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees last December, Lynch denied Comey's accusations. The transcripts of Lynch's testimony were released Monday by House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.).
"I did not. I have never instructed a witness as to what to say specifically. Never have, never will," Lynch said.
However, Lynch did not deny using the word "matter" with Comey during that September 2015 meeting, which discussed how to properly inform Congress about the investigation.
Instead, Lynch told Congress her concern was with maintaining longstanding Justice Department policy of not confirming or denying the existence of an investigation — not protecting Clinton.
"Obviously, we wanted to testify fully, fulsomely, and provide the information that was needed, but we were not at that point, in September of 2015, ready to confirm that there was an investigation into the email matter — or deny it. We were sticking with policy, and that was my position on that," Lynch explained.
"I didn't direct anyone to use specific phraseology," she continued. "When the Director asked me how to best to handle that, I said: 'What I have been saying is we have received a referral and we are working on the matter, working on the issue, or we have all the resources we need to handle the matter, handle the issue.' So that was the suggestion that I made to him."
Lynch went on to say that Comey's characterization of the conversation left her "quite surprised" because it was not how she "intended" Comey to feel.