In newly-released testimony from December (thanks, Rep. Doug Collins!), it was revealed that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch essentially told House lawmakers that disgraced FBI Director James Comey was a liar and that his reasons for going rogue with the Hillary Clinton investigation were so much self-serving nonsense.
In was in June 2017 that Comey first testified that Lynch had asked him to start calling the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private emails a “matter” rather than an investigation. It was at that point that Comey decided that he could not count on the independence of the Justice Department.
“The attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me,” Comey testified. “That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude, I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.
“The Clinton campaign, at the time, was using all kind of euphemisms — security review, matters, things like that, for what was going on,” Comey continued. “We were getting to a place where the attorney general and I were both going to have to testify and talk publicly about. And I wanted to know, was she going to authorize us to confirm we had an investigation? And she said, ‘Yes, but don’t call it that, call it a matter.’ And I said, ‘Why would I do that?’ And she said, ‘Just call it a matter.’”
Asked in December, however, whether or not she’d ever told Comey to refer to the Clinton investigation as a “matter,” Lynch said, “I did not.”
“I have never instructed a witness as to what to say specifically. Never have, never will,” Lynch continued. “In the meeting that I had with the Director, we were discussing how best to keep Congress informed of progress and discuss requesting resources for the Department overall. We were going to testify separately. And the concern that both of us had in the meeting that I was having with him in September of 2015 was how to have that discussion without stepping across the Department policy of confirming or denying an investigation, separate policy from testifying.
“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,” Lynch said. “We were sticking with policy, and that was my position on that. I didn’t direct anyone to use specific phraseology. 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.”
You may recall that this was Comey’s exact reasoning for not wanting to go public with the fact that President Trump was not under an FBI investigation. He told Trump that saying it that way would create a “duty to correct” if the situation changed. So in the early months of 2017, he felt one way about talking about an ongoing investigation, but then going back to 2016 or 2015, he was baffled as to why he would hide the fact that Clinton was under investigation?
“I was quite surprised that he characterized it in that way,” Lynch said. “We did have a conversation about it, so I wasn’t surprised that he remembered that we met about it and talked about it. But I was quite surprised that that was his characterization of it, because that was not how it was conveyed to him, certainly not how it was intended.”
Quite interesting. It’s just one more data point that confirms that James Comey sees the world through a very particular, self-serving lens. Knowing that, you have to wonder how badly he botched the context of other conversations he has relayed to the American people. The “loyalty oath” dinner he had with President Trump, for instance. Or the way he shared the dossier with the President-elect shortly before he was sworn in. Comey tells the story that makes Comey look good and everyone else look suspicious. But his act of righteousness is falling apart.