On December 19, 2018, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave Congress a master class in how to testify while saying nothing and called James Comey a liar to boot. House member Doug Collins (R-GA) released transcripts of nine former DOJ and FBI Officials this week. Announced via tweet, the transcripts are of the executive session of two House committees: the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Her testimony can be summed up as follows: She did nothing wrong, doesn’t know why Comey made the July 5, 2016, announcement saying no Hillary prosecution, and has no idea why Bill Clinton met with her on an airport tarmac. Oh, and she never told him to soft-pedal the investigation into Hillary’s emails or characterized it as a “matter” instead of an investigation.
Do You Know What Time It Is?
When preparing a witness for cross-examination, one of the things an attorney goes over is not to volunteer things. It’s the opposing counsel’s job to ask the right questions, and if they are in opposition, then certainly there is no need to help them. “Do you know what time it is?” In life, if asked that question, and you know it’s noon, you say “noon.” In a hostile deposition, you say “yes.” Because the questioner did not ask what time it was, they asked if you knew the time. By replying with the time, you volunteer information that was not asked, making it easier for the questioner to advance their knowledge and discover more. When the questioner is a member of Congress who only has a limited time to examine a witness, this may be very effective at stifling an inquiry.
Ms. Lynch did not need a lesson on how to frustrate those seeking the truth when she testified. One of the key facts the Congress wished to uncover was whether she ordered Comey to call the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s manipulation of emails to avoid discovery a “matter” instead of an “investigation.” If she did demand the language change, that makes her a political operative, not a law enforcement officer, and surely a target for future investigation.
Seeking Assurance on the Matter
In his testimony before the Senate, former FBI Director Comey got “a queasy feeling” when his boss, then-Attorney General Lynch, directed him to call the FBI criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton a “matter.” Then in his book, Comey said that he asked her, “[w]hy would I do that?” She “snapped back,” Comey wrote, that he should “just call it a matter.” It’s important to recall that the press, was at that point, onto the story, and that the Clinton campaign was desperately trying to put forth the notion that Hillary was not under threat of criminal charges. Hillary Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, stated that “[t]he government is seeking assurance about the storage of those materials. We are actively cooperating.” Conducting an investigation into criminal liability was “seeking assurance” like a cop pulling you over for speeding is seeking assurance about your velocity.
Lest the lovely words of former Attorney General Lynch spoken elsewhere in her testimony about respect for the rule of law as a government servant lead you astray, make no mistake that she is every bit the political cage-fighter President Obama banked on her being when he appointed her Attorney General. When Rep. Jordan (R-OH) asked her in December if Comey’s account was accurate, Ms. Lynch replied: “I haven’t read his book, so I can’t say if that’s in there or not.” She was responding as if Mr. Jordan asked if that was a true representation of what was present in the book rather than if what Comey said was true. Too cute. But she let the mask drop. Ms. Lynch is not interested in revealing the truth, but in concealing it.
Lynch eventually gives a general denial about playing politics, but her previous statement is an admission – she is obfuscating, still. Only now, instead of protecting Clinton and Obama, she is protecting herself. She has good reason to. Last week we saw Comey vs. Obama CIA Director John Brennan on who pushed the unverified Steele dossier to advance efforts to surveil Trump and his close associates. U.S. Attorney John Durham is currently investigating the genesis of Russiagate. It’s not a matter now, but a full-blown investigation, and Ms. Lynch is no doubt part of a cast of characters whose behavior will be closely examined.
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