Shortly before the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server was shut down, Former FBI Director James Comey had a brief, tense meeting with then U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. He had a document from the FBI that suggested the Attorney General was already resolved to prevent any prosecution of Clinton. Lynch was not aware of this document’s existence and her reaction to it was telling; one source who was briefed described how Comey later recounted the meeting. “the attorney general looked at the document then looked up with a steely silence that lasted for some time, then asked him if he had any other business with her and if not, that he should leave her office.”
Comey told lawmakers about this meeting during a closed-door session. According to a Circa News report, Comey claims that he was concerned about the obvious conflict of interest, surrounding Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton whilst the investigation was still in progress. That meeting could not be considered anything other than highly improper. Once it was clear to the FBI chief that his boss intended to prevent the investigation leading to charges, he decided to publicly bring the affair to a close, citing no evidence that Clinton had any intent to break the law.
Comey had also testified that Lynch instructed him not to refer to the Clinton investigation as an investigation but, rather, describe it as a “matter.” He went on to say that this directive made him feel “queasy.”
Was he, Comey, attempting to preserve the integrity of the investigation or was he shutting it down because he realized that its integrity had already been destroyed?
James Comey has had a credibility problem ever since that announcement, in July of 2016, that he was ending the investigation. Whether there is intent to break the law has never been a proper legal argument. Certainly, President Donald Trump has also been judged according to perceived intent. Appeals courts continue to block his so-called travel ban, based on nothing more than his alleged intent to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
Untold numbers of legal decisions could be overturned, across the country, if appeals were filed that argued intent to break a law – or lack of it – should have been factored in to a judge’s ruling or a jury’s vote.
The fact that lawmakers and government officials seem to be judged according to a set of criteria entirely different from other citizens plays into the general public’s lack of confidence in and honest and equitable government.
The former FBI director has been both vilified and defended by both sides of the aisle, at various times. Whether or not he is to be believed appears to depend on political motivation. Democratic lawmakers called for his head when he first confirmed that Hillary Clinton was under investigation. Once that investigation was so abruptly concluded with no indictments, those calls faded.
The investigation into the president’s alleged collusion with Russia, in the run up to the general election continues to yield no evidence of any such scheming. Numerous lawmakers – both Republican and Democrat – along with current and former intelligence officials, admit as much. From the moment James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the focus of the investigation began to shift. Certainly, for Democrats, that was not the intention. Comey was called to testify to ascertain whether the president had attempted to interfere with the Russia investigation. What has come out since then has been more about how Obama administration officials conducted themselves.
If anything, Comey’s appearance before the Senate committee has only muddied the waters further and blurs the lines between the Russia investigation and a potential re-examination of the handling of the Clinton investigation. It would seem appropriate, now to call former A.G. Lynch to testify about her own conduct – and intent – during the Clinton email investigation. At least one senior Democrat agrees. Referring to Comey’s description of his interactions with the A.G., California Senator Diane Feinstein said, “I would have a queasy feeling too, though, to be candid with you.” Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, she added “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.”
Feinstein also pointed out that it would be important to keep the Russia investigation separate from any further inquiry into the Comey-Lynch-Clinton affair. Whilst the former continues to go nowhere, the latter could open up a whole new can of worms for Democrats who hope to keep the focus on the President.