We were surprised by the call on Sunday from a leading Senate Democrat for a congressional investigation into the role former attorney general Loretta Lynch played in the FBI’s investigation of the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server. From where we sit, this is a big deal.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said she was concerned about former FBI director James Comey’s testimony last week that Ms. Lynch had directed him during the course of the presidential campaign to refer to his probe of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails as a “matter” and not as a more ominous sounding “investigation,” as indeed he had been doing. Mr. Comey said that the request made him “queasy” and uncertain about the credibility of the Justice Department.
Sen. Feinstein said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program, “I would have had a queasy feeling too,” adding: “I think we need to know more about that. And there’s only one way to know about it and that’s to have the Judiciary Committee take a look at that.”
On its face, the request by Ms. Lynch raises the question of whether she was trying to give Mrs. Clinton political cover during the campaign. But perhaps even more important, a congressional probe of Ms. Lynch could easily include an investigation into Mr. Comey’s handling of the initial inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail practices and his stunning decision not to recommend prosecution – this after he had methodically laid out a series of seemingly illegal acts that could have resulted in just that.
It could also allow the congressional committee to look into what really happened at Ms. Lynch’s infamous meeting with former president Bill Clinton on a tarmac in Phoenix right in the middle of the campaign and the e-mail investigation, at a time when both Bill and Hillary Clinton were subjects of FBI investigations.
Ms. Lynch claimed the meeting was unplanned and that they only discussed their grandchildren. The committee could certainly shed some light through questioning Ms. Lynch and the former president under oath.
And given the current focus on what President Trump may or may not have said to Mr. Comey concerning the investigation of former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, comments by former president Obama could also be pursued: In the midst of the presidential campaign and investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s e-mail use, Mr. Obama said she had made a “mistake” but “I don’t think it posed a national security problem.” He went on to say that the issue had been “ginned up” into a political attack.
At the time, The New York Times reported that “The White House quickly backed off the president’s remarks and said he had not been trying to influence the investigation. But his comments spread quickly, raising the ire of officials who saw an instance of the president trying to influence the outcome of a continuing investigation –and not for the first time.”
Perhaps a congressional inquiry could clear that matter up as well.