AG Lynch tells Congress: ‘It would be inappropriate’ to comment further on Clinton email probe

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( – Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in her opening statement Tuesday that she would not “comment further” on the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server now that the FBI’s probe has concluded with no charges recommended against the presumed Democratic presidential nominee.

“I want to close with a comment about the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email server during her time as secretary of State. As you are aware, last week I met with [FBI] Director [James] Comey and career prosecutors and agents who conducted that investigation,” the attorney general said.

“I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough year-long investigation be closed and no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation,” Lynch said.

“And while I understand that this investigation has generated significant public interest, as attorney general, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on the underlying facts of the investigation or the legal basis for the team’s investigation,” she added.

In an exchange with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Lynch declined to comment “on the facts or the substance” of the case:

Goodlatte: “Let me turn your attention to Director Comey’s conclusions on a variety of points. Secretary Clinton stated that she never sent or received information marked as classified on her server. Director Comey stated that was not true. Do you agree with Director Comey?” Goodlatte asked.

Lynch: “Director Comey has chosen to provide great detail into the basis of his recommendations that were ultimately provided to me. He’s chosen to provide detailed statements, and I would refer you to those statements. I, as attorney general, am not able to provide any further comment on the facts or the substance of the investigation.”

Goodlatte: “General Lynch, I think you will agree that the ultimate responsibility for a prosecutorial decision does not rest with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but with the Department of Justice, which you head. Have you not taken a close look at the work done by Director Comey, especially given the extreme national interest in this issue to make a determination yourself whether you or those working for you agree or disagree with Director Comey?”

Lynch: “As I’ve indicated, I’ve received the recommendation of the team, and that team is composed prosecutors and agents. It was a unanimous recommendation as to how to resolve the investigation, and … what the information that they have received concluded, and I accepted that recommendation. I saw no reason not to accept it, and again I reiterate my pride and faith in their work.”

Goodlatte: “Secretary Clinton stated that she did not email any classified material, and Director Comey stated there was classified material emailed. Do you agree with Director Comey’s conclusion about that?”

Lynch: “Again, I would have to refer you to Director Comey’s statements for the basis for his recommendation.”

Goodlatte: “Director Comey stated that there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information. Do you agree with Director Comey’s statement?”

Lynch: “Again, I would refer you to Director Comey for any further explanation as to the basis for his recommendations. The recommendation that I received from the team, including Director Comey was that the investigation be resolved without charges.”

Goodlatte: “Director Comey made a recommendation, but he made the recommendation to the Department of Justice, which you head, and you would have to come to the final conclusion on whether or not to act. I would presume that before you acted you would look at his conclusions and determine whether you agreed with them or not.”

Lynch: “As I’ve indicated, I received a briefing from the team, which included not just the prosecutors but the agents and Director Comey. Their unanimous recommendation was that the matter be resolved in the way in which we’ve announced, and I accepted that recommendation.”

Goodlatte: “Let me ask you one final question that does not regard the specific facts with regard to Secretary Clinton. Director Comey said that there was not clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information. My question for you is, is intent to violate the law a requirement under 18 U.S.C Section 793 F?”

Lynch: “Congressman, I think the statutes that were considered here speak for themselves. To answer further would require a discussion of the facts and an analysis of this matter, which as I’ve indicated, I’m not in position to provide at this time. Again, I’d refer you to Director Comey’s discussion for that. As I’ve indicated, the team reviewed this matter, and it was a unanimous team decision.”

Goodlatte: “And you made a decision following their recommendation to you that you are not going to prosecute and the matter was closed. Is that correct?”

Lynch: “I made the decision some time ago that I would accept the recommendation of that team and was awaiting that recommendation. When I received it, there was no basis not to accept it, and again, I reiterate my pride and faith in them.”

Goodlatte: “I appreciate your faith in them. The concern here is regard to your sworn oath to uphold the United States Constitution and the laws thereunder, including 18 U.S.C. Section 793 F and 18 U.S.C. Section 1924, and to conclude that no prosecution would take place without examining and drawing conclusions regarding the questions that I’ve just asked does not seem to be a responsible way to uphold your constitutionally sworn oath.”

— Written by Melanie Hunter