As more Democrats have started to question why former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was never investigated for obstruction following a suspicious meeting with former President Bill Clinton, it appears the Senate Judiciary Committee has finally decided to act.
The Washington Times reported Friday that the committee has launched a formal investigation into Lynch’s attempts to shape the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton, and whether she mishandled classified information on her private email server.
According to the Times, the investigation has bipartisan support.
“Sen. Charles E. Grassley, chairman of the committee, said the investigation is bipartisan. The letter to Ms. Lynch is signed by ranking Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and also by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse, the chairman and ranking member of the key investigative subcommittee.”
“Letters also went to Clinton campaign staffer Amanda Renteria and Leonard Benardo and Gail Scovell at the Open Society Foundations. Mr. Benardo was reportedly on an email chain from the then-head of the Democratic National Committee suggesting Ms. Lynch had given assurances to Ms. Renteria, the campaign staffer, that the Clinton probe wouldn’t “go too far.”
During testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI Director James Comey said his suspicions about Lynch’s cozy relationship with the Clintons prompted him to unilaterally announce the close of the Clinton investigation last summer. According to Comey, Lynch leaned on him to soften his language when discussing the investigation, asking him to refer to the probe as a “matter,” mirror language used by the campaign, instead of as “an investigation.”
Comey also said the suspicious meeting between Clinton and Lynch raised questions about her objectivity that could’ve compromised the bureau’s integrity.
LANKFORD: Then you made a comment earlier a the attorney general, the previous attorney general asking you about the investigation on the Clinton e-mails saying you were asked to not call it an investigation anymore. But call it a matter. You said that confused you. You can give us additional details on that?
COMEY: Well, it concerned me because we were at the point where we refused to confirm the existence as we typically do of an investigation for months. And was getting to a place where that looked silly because the campaigns we’re talking about interacting with the FBI in the course of our work. The Clinton campaign at the time was using all kinds of euphemisms, security matters, things like that for what was going on.
We were getting to a place where the attorney general and I were both going to testify and talk publicly about it I wanted to know was she going to authorize us to confirm we have an investigation. She said yes, don’t call it that, call it a matter. I said why would I do that? She said, just call it a matter. You look back in hindsight, if I looked back and said this isn’t a hill worth dying on so I just said the press is going to completely ignore it. That’s what happened when I said we opened a matter.
They all reported the FBI has an investigation open. So that concerned me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning.
LANKFORD: You gave impression that the campaign was somehow using the language as the FBI because you were handed the campaign language?
COMEY: I don’t know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way it was describing that. It was inaccurate. We had an investigation open for the federal bureau of investigation, we had an investigation open at the time. That gave me a queasy feeling.
So who was obstructing or trying to interfere there?
Comey said that this troubled him greatly and convinced him, “I have to step away from the department if we’re too close this case credibly.”
As former Speaker Newt Gingrich noted earlier this week, even California Sen. Dianne Feinstein – the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee – had begun to wonder aloud why Lynch was being investigated. Gingrich said the absence of an investigation is a sign of Republican weakness.
“What’s amazing to me about the Republican passivity here is that Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, said last week after Comey’s testimony ‘you know we really have to look into exactly what’s going on with Loretta lynch and with president Obama.’ Now I was waiting for one of the intel chairmen in the House and Senate to get up and say they’re opening a new investigation into exactly what Loretta lynch said to Comey.”
Now we wait to see if the house and, more importantly, the DOJ follow suit.
* * *