Attorney General Loretta Lynch is defending the FBI against allegations that the bureau mishandled investigations of email hacks of Democrats and focused too much attention on Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
“I can tell you that this investigation was taken seriously from the beginning,” Lynch said in an interview with CNN that airs Sunday.
She was responding to complaints raised by Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in an op-ed published by The Washington Post on Friday. Podesta, who had his Gmail account hacked during the campaign, argued that “something is deeply broken at the FBI.”
He pointed to reports that FBI investigators failed to warn Democratic National Committee officials last September after discovering that Russian hackers were attempting to infiltrate the party’s email systems. At the same time, Podesta noted, investigators were traveling the country to interview witnesses as part of the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s private email server.
The apparent discrepancy between the responses to the two different investigations is “downright infuriating,” Podesta wrote.
But Lynch says that Podesta is not aware of the full scope of the investigation into the computer hacks.
“He’s not involved in the ongoing investigation so he wouldn’t be privy to everything that would have been done or said to that,” Lynch told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Lynch, whose Justice Department oversees the FBI, called the bureau’s investigation of the hacks “extremely high quality.”
“First of all, the investigation isn’t even over,” she added. “So I think it’s impossible to characterize it in any one way or the other. Again, I don’t know where Mr. Podesta is obtaining information.”Lynch also suggested that Podesta’s work on the Clinton campaign may be clouding his assessment of the FBI’s actions.
“I know also because of his involvement with the campaign, he’s going to have a certain interest in this and a certain view of that,” she said.
Brian Fallon, who worked as Clinton’s press secretary, responded harshly to Lynch’s comments on Saturday.
“And people wonder why Comey feels free to ignore his ‘superiors’ across the street at the Justice Department,” wrote Fallon, who served as Justice Department spokesman under Eric Holder, Lynch’s predecessor.
Ironically, it was several months ago that the Clinton campaign was forced to defend both Lynch and FBI director James Comey. Lynch’s objectivity as ultimate overseer of the sprawling Clinton email probe was called into question after it was reported that she met privately on an airplane with Bill Clinton in late June, just days before the FBI and Justice Department interviewed Hillary Clinton.
The campaign insisted that the meeting had nothing to do with the email investigation.
The campaign also defended Comey when, on July 5, he announced that he would be recommending to Lynch that the DOJ not charge Clinton with mishandling classified information on her private server.