Former President Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch met behind closed doors with a congressional Russian election meddling probe on Friday.
Republicans were eager to question her about an infamous tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton in June 2016, a meeting which has triggered suspicions about the Obama Department of Justice’s impartiality toward Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton at the height of the election.
But Mrs. Lynch refused to discuss the meeting before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, according to Fox News.
Mrs. Lynch has been accused of attempting to influence the FBI’s investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s private email use while secretary of state — and both she and Mr. Clinton say the meeting at the Phoenix airport was a chance social encounter.
In June, during highly anticipated testimony, fired FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the Lynch-Clinton tarmac meeting caused him to hold a press conference on Mrs. Clinton’s email case.
“At one point, the attorney general [Lynch] had directed me not to call it an investigation but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me,” Mr. Comey told the committee. “That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.”
On Friday, Fox quoted sources saying the former attorney general refused to answer three queries: whether she ever instructed Mr. Comey to characterize the DOJ’s Clinton email investigation a “matter,” whether she liaised with the White House to hold the tarmac meeting with Mr. Clinton and finally — if she could address any issues related to Mr. Comey’s June testimony.
Mrs. Lynch reportedly declined to answer any of the three queries.
Past reports have quoted her as saying she found it painful that the tarmac meeting raised questions about the DOJ’s overall integrity and that she harbors regrets that she didn’t stop before the meeting and consider how it would be viewed.
The former attorney general was the latest Obama official to testify on the Russian scandal.
Speculation swirled last week that she he could also soon testify before the Senate intelligence committee — in addition to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Some lawmakers on the House probe were also interested in asking Mrs. Lynch about the possibility that Obama-era officials spied on the Trump campaign and transition personnel by “unmasking” or identifying Americans swept up during foreign intelligence gathering. It is unknown whether that issue surfaced during Friday’s meeting.
• Dan Boylan can be reached at email@example.com.
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