Testifying today in a Senate hearing about his meetings with President Trump, ex-FBI Director James Comey said he was told not to refer to the Hillary Clinton email probe as an “investigation.”
According to Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch told him to refer to the investigation as a “matter.” The request “confused and concerned” him, said Comey. “That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we are to close this case credibly.”
Lynch’s request seemed to give “the impression the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our investigation with the way a political campaign was describing the activity,” said Comey, noting that the Clinton campaign inaccurately referred to the FBI’s criminal investigation with “euphemisms” like “security review.”
These descriptions gave him “a queasy feeling,” said Comey. But the “deciding factor,” he explained, was the suspicious meeting between Lynch and Bill Clinton that took place on an airport tarmac last June in Arizona.
The former FBI director said he felt obligated to act “separately” from the DOJ in order to “protect the credibility of the investigation.”
Last July, in a move that went against Justice Department tradition, Comey publicly announced the closure of the Clinton email probe. He criticized Clinton’s actions as “extremely careless,” but did not recommend prosecution.
Comey’s testimony on Thursday was his first public appearance since he was fired last month.
Editor’s note: I would say this is much closer to obstruction of justice than anything Trump did.