What Will Loretta Lynch Tell Russia Investigators? Former Attorney General Could Talk Comey, Clinton

Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks at a press conference on January 13 in Chicago. Scott Olson/Getty

When Loretta Lynch meets with congressional investigators who are looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as she is reportedly expected to do, the former attorney general could also face questions about her own conduct at the Department of Justice.

Lynch, who served under former President Barack Obama from 2015 until he left office in January, is expected to meet next week with the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, CNN and other outlets reported. She is also scheduled to meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to Politico.

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The former attorney general oversaw the Justice Department, while the FBI, part of the department, launched its own probe into Russian meddling in the election and possible coordination with President Donald Trump's election campaign.

In addition to asking Lynch the types of Russia-related questions they have asked other Obama administration officials, the committees will likely question her about her involvement in the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email system while secretary of state. That could include the so-called tarmac meeting Lynch had with Bill Clinton in June 2016 in Phoenix, while the probe was under way. That meeting caused then-FBI Director James Comey to hold an unusual press conference about the Clinton case, which Trump initially cited in his decision to fire Comey.

In June, Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Lynch told him to refer to the Clinton investigation as "a matter," which left him with a "queasy feeling" and "concerned me because that language tracked the way the [Clinton presidential] campaign was talking about the FBI's work."

In her book What Happened, Hillary Clinton wrote about the tarmac meeting and Lynch and Bill Clinton: "Nothing inappropriate was said in any way, but both of them came to regret exchanging pleasantries that day before of the firestorm that followed." She wrote that she blames Comey for her election loss.

Republicans have shown persistent interest in the tarmac meeting. In August, the American Center for Law and Justice published correspondence it had obtained between the Department of Justice and members of the press regarding that meeting. (Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, has been the principal officer of that center.) Trump tweeted, "Emails show the AmazonWashingtonPost and the FailingNewYorkTimes were reluctant to cover the Clinton/Lynch secret meeting in plane."

Lynch herself appears to have been the subject of a Russian intelligence effort, and the Hill investigators could ask her about it. In May, The Washington Post reported that in March 2016 the FBI received a document that cited correspondence between Lynch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. The document suggested that Lynch had told Amanda Renteria, an aide to Hillary Clinton, that she would not let the FBI's probe of Clinton progress too far. The document, believed to be the work of Russia and containing unreliable claims, influenced Comey's decision to end the investigation without Justice Department involvement, according to the Post.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has sent letters to Lynch and others referenced in the document seeking more information. In a response to the committee in July, Robert Raben, a lawyer for Lynch, wrote, "Those communications did not take place.... To the best of her knowledge and recollection, neither Ms. Lynch nor any representative of the office of the attorney general discussed the Clinton email investigation with Ms. Renteria, Representative Wasserman Schultz or her staff, or any DNC official."

The Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee have requested that the Justice Department appoint a special counsel to review Lynch's actions as attorney general. One of the members of that panel, Representative Trey Gowdy, is on a committee that is said to be meeting with Lynch next week.