Lynch: Obama Comments on FBI Investigation into Hillary Clinton Have No Influence on DOJ

November 17, 2015

Attorney General Loretta Lynch told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that President Obama's comments on the ongoing FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails and other legal matters have no influence on how the Department of Justice operates.

Lynch testified before the full Judiciary Committee to discuss oversight of the DOJ, and Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., VA) asked her specifically about the president's statements regarding the IRS scandal, where the agency is accused of discrimination against conservative groups, and the Clinton email issue.

Goodlatte asked:

"The president stated on Super Bowl Sunday that there was not ‘even a smidgen of corruption at the IRS.’ At the end of that investigation, no charges were filed. Two weeks ago, the president stated with respect to Secretary Clinton's emails, ‘this is not a situation in which America's national security was endangered.’ Should we expect that when the FBI finishes its investigation of this matter that no charges will be filed? Does the department allow statements by the president to dictate its investigative practices?"

The head of the DOJ responded with a firm no, saying, "Mr. Chairman, the department reviews facts and evidence submitted before it. We apply the law to those facts and evidence. We take all the appropriate steps in every matter that we review."

She continued by asserting that the DOJ "essentially" undergoes this process for all issues "whether it relates to the IRS, to an email matter, or every matter that comes before us. And, with respect to the president's comments, they have no influence or bearing on how the department manages these matters..."

The congressman pushed Lynch on the question, asking whether it is inappropriate for President Obama to "inject his personal views into an ongoing FBI investigation."

After the attorney general refused to comment, Goodlatte described how the president is "chief executive officer of the United States, and everything that operates within the executive branch is under his purview, including the very important, independent nature of the FBI in conducting its investigations."

For this reason, the chairman asked whether it would be better for the president to "not comment on the merits" of ongoing investigations.

"Mr. Chairman, I really don't have a comment on the president's statements," Lynch said.

The attorney general's written statement can be viewed here, in which she discusses the DOJ's plans for homeland security threats such as terrorism and cyber security, growing hostility to law enforcement, human trafficking, and criminal justice reform.