After previously stating that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s now famous tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton led him to make an independent announcement regarding Hillary Clinton’s email probe, James Comey revealed during his public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Lynch has also asked him to downplay the investigation.
During Thursday’s testimony Comey told committee members that Lynch had asked him to refer to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails as a “matter,” rather than an “investigation.”
“There were other things, significant items,” he said after calling the tarmac meeting the “deciding factor” and added that “the Attorney General directed me not to call it an investigation and call it a matter—which confused me.”
He then went on to say that he felt the attorney general was trying to align the Department of Justice’s language surrounding the investigation with that of the Clinton campaign.
“That was one of the bricks in the load that I needed to step away from the department,” Comey said. “That gave me a queasy feeling.”
Lynch’s meeting with former President Clinton in July of 2016 raised eyebrows and led many to question whether or not she had jeopardized the impartiality of the department. Days later Comey publicly announced that the FBI would not recommend pressing charges against Hillary Clinton as his way to “to protect the investigation and the FBI.”
When asked if he would have made a different decision if he could go back, Comey said, “Honestly, no. It caused a lot of personal pain for me – I think it was the best way to protect the justice institution—including the FBI.”