A joint task force made up of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Monday released transcripts of various interviews with government officials. One of the transcripts was with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Specifically, the transcript reveals that Lynch denied ever directing FBI Director James Comey to refer to the Clinton email investigation as a "matter."
Attorney: Are you familiar with his -- I think he's testified to this -- that you instructed, I believe in September of 2015, Director Comey to call the Midyear Exam investigation a matter?
Lynch: I heard his testimony on it and that was the first time that he had ever indicated to me, in my understanding -- he may have told others -- that he had that impression of our conversation.
Attorney: So you do not believe you ever instructed him to call it a matter?
Lynch: I did not. I have never instructed a witness as to what to say specifically. Never have, never will.
In the meeting that I had with the Director, we were discussing how best to keep Congress informed of progress and discuss requesting resources for the Department overall. We were going to testify separately. And the concern that both of us had in the meeting that I was having with him in September of 2015 was how to have that discussion without stepping across the Department policy of confirming or denying an investigation, separate policy from testifying.
Obviously, we wanted to testify fully, fulsomely, and provide the information that was needed, but we were not at that point, in September of 2015, ready to confirm that there was an investigation into the email matter -- or deny it. We were sticking with policy, and that was my position on that.
I didn't direct anyone to use specific phraseology. When the Director asked me how to best to handle that, I said: What I have been saying is we have received a referral and we are working on the matter, working on the issue, or we have all the resources we need to handle the matter, handle the issue. So that was the suggestion that I made to him.
Congressman Jim Jordan further pressed Lynch on her words and whether or not she wanted Comey to call the investigation a "matter."
Jordan: Ms. Lynch, so in Mr. Comey's book he says this: Comey quoted you as saying, "Call it a matter."
He responded, "Why would I do that?"
"'Just call it a matter,' she snapped back."
Is that accurate?
Lynch: I haven't read his book, so I can't say if that's in there or not.
Jordan: I'm reading directly from his book. He said call it a matter -- or you said, "Call it a matter."
His response was, "Why would I do that?"
He said you snapped back with, "Just call it a matter."
Is that accurate?
Lynch: Well, again, leaving aside whether it's in the book or not, that's not my recollection of the meeting. But I can't explain to you why he remembers it that way.
Jordan: Okay. He said this in his book. "The Attorney General seemed to be directing me to align me with the Clinton campaign strategy," he wrote, adding caustically that, quote, "The FBI didn't do matters."
Is that true? Were you trying to align him with the Clinton campaign strategy?
Lynch: I wasn't aware of the Clinton campaign strategy on anything. I had never --
Jordan: So you weren't trying to align anybody with the Clinton campaign strategy?
Lynch: I was not trying to align anyone on any issue with a campaign strategy in this case or any other.
During his testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee in June, Comey made it evident Lynch instructed him to downplay the significance of the Clinton email investigation, Fox News reported.
"The attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me," Comey testified. “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.’”
“The Clinton campaign, at the time, was using all kind of euphemisms — security review, matters, things like that, for what was going on. We were getting to a place where the attorney general and I were both going to have to testify and talk publicly about. And I wanted to know, was she going to authorize us to confirm we had an investigation? ... And she said, ‘Yes, but don’t call it that, call it a matter.' And I said, ‘Why would I do that?’ And she said, ‘Just call it a matter.’”