The FBI has "reopened" its consideration of a request for records on the infamous 2016 tarmac meeting between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton, the group behind that request told Fox News.
American Center for Law and Justice President Jay Sekulow called the development a “positive sign,” in an interview Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.”
Sekulow said the FBI sent him a letter saying it had reopened his Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to the June 2016 meeting. At first, the FBI and DOJ said they did not have documents detailing the tarmac meet-up, before recently releasing a batch of emails. They are now searching for more records.
“While we appreciate that the FBI has ‘reopened’ the case file and is now ‘searching’ for documents responsive to our duly submitted FOIA request from more than a year ago, it stretches the bounds of credulity to suggest that the FBI bureaucracy just discovered that ‘potentially responsive’ records ‘may exist’ on its own accord,” Sekulow said in a written statement.
FBI’s newest letter to the ACLJ – dated one week after the government watchdog group accused the government of lying to them about the existence of records – now states that “records potentially responsive to your request may exist.”
Last week, ACLJ released 400 emails from the initial batch they received. The documents revealed that Lynch used an email alias to discuss the secret meeting that took place between her and Clinton and that DOJ staffers were concerned about the optics of the situation.
The tarmac meeting fueled Republican complaints at the time that Lynch had improperly met with the husband of an investigation subject, Hillary Clinton, just before the probe into her personal email use was completed with no charges filed.
A week after the meeting, then-FBI Director James Comey called Clinton’s actions “extremely careless” but did not recommend charges. The criminal investigation was closed and then briefly re-opened in October just days before the 2016 presidential election.
Sekulow, who also serves on President Trump’s legal team, said the ACLJ will continue to “press on in our legal fight to ensure that the details of the secret Clinton-Lynch meeting and the subsequent cover-up and withholding of information from the public comes to light.”
He added that his organization will continue to “legally hold the FBI’s feet to the fire” and said he is “willing to go to court to get (the records) if necessary.”
The conservative group Judicial Watch also has clashed with the DOJ, after receiving similar documents it complained were "heavily redacted."
In response to those complaints, a Justice Department spokesperson referred Fox News to a letter sent by the DOJ Office of Information Policy on Aug. 1, 2017 to Judicial Watch explaining their decision to maintain redacted materials.
The letter explains that those sections pertain to “certain inter- and intra-agency communications protected by the deliberative process privilege, and information release of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of third parties.”
A Justice spokesperson told Fox News that decisions to claim the deliberative process exemption are routine.
In his June testimony, Comey cited concerns with Lynch's handling of the Clinton investigation. Comey told lawmakers that Lynch directed him to describe the email probe as a “matter” and not an “investigation.”
Comey said the tarmac meeting was a “deciding factor” in his decision to act alone to update the public on the Clinton probe—and protect the bureau’s reputation.