Former FBI Director James Comey reportedly takes aim at President Obama and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch for complicating the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server in his upcoming book, “A Higher Loyalty.”
While Comey strongly defended his FBI team against any “personal political motivations,” the passages show a different point of view regarding Obama and Lynch, whom he believes both “jeopardized” the credibility of his investigation with their statements prior to its conclusion.
“Contributing to this problem, regrettably, was President Obama,” writes Comey, according to a pre-release copy obtained by the Washington Examiner. “He had jeopardized the Department of Justice’s credibility in the investigation by saying in a 60 Minutes interview on Oct. 11, 2015, that Clinton’s email use was ‘a mistake’ that had not endangered national security. Then on Fox News on April 10, 2016, he said that Clinton may have been careless but did not do anything to intentionally harm national security, suggesting that the case involved overclassification of material in the government.”
Describing Obama as a “very smart man who understands the law very well,” Comey wonders why “he spoke about the case publicly and seemed to absolve her before a final determination was made.”
“If the president had already decided the matter, an outside observer could reasonably wonder, how on earth could his Department of Justice do anything other than follow his lead,” wrote the former FBI director, who stressed that the former president “had not been briefed on our work at all.”
Comey also criticized former Attorney General Lynch’s insistence on characterizing the Clinton email probe as a “matter” instead of an “investigation.”
“It occurred to me in the moment that this issue of semantics was strikingly similar to the fight the Clinton campaign had waged against The New York Times in July. Ever since then, the Clinton team had been employing a variety of euphemisms to avoid using the word ‘investigation,’” wrote Comey, according to the Examiner. “The attorney general seemed to be directing me to align with the Clinton campaign strategy. Her ‘just do it’ response to my question indicated that she had no legal or procedural justification for her request, at least not one grounded in our practices or traditions. Otherwise, I assume, she would have said so.”
However, the former FBI director didn’t go so far as to accuse Lynch of interfering in the investigation.
“I, for one, didn’t see any instance when Attorney General Lynch interfered with the conduct of the investigation,” wrote Comey. “Though I had been concerned about her direction to me at that point, I saw no indication afterward that she had any contact with the investigators or prosecutors on the case.”