The first accounts of James Comey’s forthcoming book were published today and they include a cryptic reference to classified information which, while still unknown to the general public, apparently casts doubt on the independence of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. From ABC News:
In early 2016, the U.S. government became aware of information from a classified source, and “the source and content of that material remains classified as I write this,” according to the book.
“Had it become public, the unverified material would undoubtedly have been used by political opponents to cast serious doubt on the attorney general’s independence in connection with the Clinton investigation,” Comey writes, without further elaboration.
Comey asserts that he didn’t sense Lynch interfered with the investigation, even after the highly publicized Phoenix tarmac meeting between Lynch and former President Bill Clinton. That episode convinced Comey that he needed to step forward with his own public accounting of the email server investigation.
In an interview with NBC this week, in advance of the book’s publication, Lynch said she and Comey had a “full and open discussion” about the handling of the Clinton email case in the fall of 2015, and that “concerns were not raised.”
In other words, Republicans would have seized on the information to make the perfectly fair point that Lynch wasn’t a straight shooter. Here’s a bit more from NBC News:
He also reveals for the first time that the U.S. government had unverified classified information that he believes could have been used to cast doubt on Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s independence in the Clinton probe. While Comey does not outline the details of the information — and says he didn’t see indications of Lynch inappropriately influencing the investigation — he says it worried him that the material could be used to attack the integrity of the probe and the FBI’s independence.
The claim that Comey never saw any evidence of Lynch influencing the investigation doesn’t quite match with his previous statement about Lynch asking him to testify that the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server was to be referred to as “a matter.” I guess you could argue that wasn’t an interference in the case itself, only in the media coverage about the case, but it still represented a partisan effort to align the FBI’s message with that of the Clinton campaign. It’s also amazing, given all of the leaks of unverified information we’ve seen in the past year, that this particular tidbit on Lynch remains unknown to the public.