Senators Are Looking At Loretta Lynch's Role In The Clinton Email Investigation

by Seth Millstein
Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Friday, ABC News reported that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are examining what role, if any, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch played in the Hillary Clinton email investigation. A bipartisan group of senators from the committee is attempting to determine whether, as was alleged in a Russian intelligence document, Lynch told the Clinton campaign that the email investigation wouldn't be pursued very vigorously, and additionally, to what extent the FBI investigated this allegation after the fact. Lynch has not publicly responded to reports of the investigation.

The Washington Post reported in May that during the presidential campaign, the FBI received a document of questionable authenticity that was supposedly prepared by Russian intelligence. According to the Post, this document described — but did not contain a copy of — an alleged email between then-DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Leonard Benardo, who leads a pro-democracy think tank. The supposed Russian document said that in this email, Wasserman-Schultz claimed Lynch had assured a Clinton aide, Amanda Renteria, that she wouldn't let the FBI investigation into Clinton's emails go too far.

However, both Wasserman-Schultz and Benardo told the Post separately that they don't know each other and have never communicated; Renteria told the paper the same about herself and Lynch. Lynch declined to comment to the Post on the story. According to the paper, in August, the FBI concluded that the supposed Russian document was "bad intelligence" and unreliable.

The FBI reportedly met Lynch for a conversation about the document, though officials assured her it "didn't have investigative value," the Post reported. Citing a person familiar with the discussion, the Post reported that Lynch told FBI officials she did not know who Renteria is, and had "never communicated with her." She also reportedly told FBI officials they were welcome to interview her staff and launch a formal probe, but the Post reported that the FBI turned down both offers.

On Thursday, Sens. Charles Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse of the Judiciary Committee signed letters to Lynch, Renteria and Benardo requesting "information about alleged political interference by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch during the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server."

During an open testimony in June, former FBI Director James Comey told Congress that Lynch asked him to describe the probe into Clinton's emails as a "matter" rather than an "investigation." Comey said that this "confused and concerned" him. Lynch did not publicly comment on Comey's testimony.

Circa reported that Comey also discussed his communications with Lynch in a closed-door meeting with lawmakers. According to Fox, Comey said he confronted Lynch about a "sensitive" document; this may or may not have been the same one referred to by the Post. The document allegedly implied that Lynch had agreed to stop any prosecution of Clinton; Comey reportedly told lawmakers that when he asked Lynch about this, she responded with "a steely silence that lasted for some time," then said that if he didn't have any more questions, he should leave her office. Neither Lynch nor the FBI commented to Circa on the allegations.