Another prominent Democrat has come forward to voice concerns about allegations ex-Attorney General Loretta Lynch may have sought to keep a lid on last year’s Hillary Clintons email probe, with California Rep. Adam Schiff saying he’s “queasy” at the thought.
Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, aired his concerns in an interview Sunday and said he wants to hear from Lynch personally.
“I'd like to hear what Loretta Lynch's explanation for that is, either by having her come to the Hill or by having her speak publicly,” he said.
The call significantly ups the pressure on Lynch, as the push to scrutinize her conduct in last year’s Clinton email investigation becomes more bipartisan.
The renewed attention stems from fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony earlier this month that Lynch had instructed him to describe the probe as a “matter” – not an “investigation.” Comey said this “confused” him and cited that directive, along with Lynch’s unusual tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton while the investigation was ongoing, in his decision to announce the FBI’s findings on his own.
Comey’s handling of the case later would be cited by the Trump administration in the decision to fire him, though speculation remains widespread over to what extent the probe of Russia meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign may have played.
Yet even as Democrats focus heavily on the Russia allegations, a handful of high-powered lawmakers like Schiff now want to hear from Lynch. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN earlier this month that Comey’s charges gave her a “queasy feeling.”
Schiff said Sunday he agrees.
“It does give me a queasy feeling as well,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “There may be a perfectly accurate explanation by Loretta Lynch about why she thought 'matter' was the appropriate term rather than 'investigation.' So I wouldn't assume James Comey's characterization is the last word on it even although though I'm sure it's accurate.”
Asked if he would have Lynch come to the House intelligence panel, he said he’s not sure that’s part of the Russia probe.
“But I would like to hear what her explanation for that was. But I certainly wouldn't want that to distract us from what we need to do to get to the bottom of the Russia allegations,” he said.
The comments come after a bipartisan letter was sent last week to Lynch and others regarding allegations of “political interference” in the Clinton case.
The inquiry was prompted, in part, by a series of media reports raising questions about whether Lynch tried to stifle the investigation into former Secretary of State Clinton’s use of a private email server.
“The reports come amidst numerous allegations of political inference in controversial and high-profile investigations spanning the current and previous administrations,” Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley's office said in a statement.
Grassley, R-Iowa; Feinstein; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., penned the letter.
The reports they cited were based on hacked documents whose authenticity has not been confirmed. This includes an April New York Times article about a batch of hacked files obtained by the FBI, including one reportedly authored by a Democratic operative who voiced confidence Lynch would keep the Clinton probe from going too far.