WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee
Chairman Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee
Chairman Lindsey Graham and Ranking Member Sheldon Whitehouse sought
information about alleged political interference by then-Attorney General
Loretta Lynch during the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The bipartisan inquiry comes
as the Judiciary Committee is examining the circumstances surrounding the
removal of James Comey as FBI Director.
In April, The New York Times reported
that the FBI came into
possession of a batch of hacked documents, one of which was said to be authored
by a “Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep
the Clinton investigation from going too far.” Chairman Grassley then requested
a copy of the document from the
Justice Department, which has failed to respond. A month later, The
Washington Post reported
similar facts and provided
further details about individuals involved in these communications. The Post
reported that the email in question, sent by then-chair of the Democratic
National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Leonard Benardo of the Open
Society Foundations, indicated that Lynch had privately assured Clinton
campaign staffer Amanda Renteria that the FBI’s investigation wouldn’t “go too
Comey was reportedly concerned
that the communication would raise doubts about the investigation’s
independence and began discussing plans to announce the end of the Clinton
email investigation rather than simply referring it to the Department for a
prosecutorial decision. Comey’s extraordinary action to announce the end of the
investigation was a break from Justice Department protocol, and was later cited
as justification for his removal from the FBI.
In their letters to Benardo,
Open Society Foundations’ General Counsel Gail Scovell, Renteria and former
Attorney General Lynch, the Senators seek details about the reported
communication, copies of any related documents and whether the FBI contacted
them to investigate the alleged communication.
The reports come amidst numerous
allegations of political inference in controversial and high-profile
investigations spanning the current and previous administrations. The Senate
Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the FBI and Justice Department and is
obliged to oversee any potential misconduct or inappropriate political
influence at these agencies.
text of the letters can be found at the following links.