Loretta Lynch stonewalls for Hillary Clinton
© Moriah Ratner

During the five-hour hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch steadfastly refused to substantively answer any questions about the facts or law applicable to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support MORE’s mishandling of her emails while Secretary of State, at least 74 times by one Congressman’s count.

Instead, she referred all such questions to FBI Director James Comey’s recent statement and testimony while carefully avoiding agreeing with any of his critical findings that Mrs. Clinton was “extremely careless” in handling the classified emails and that many of her public statements regarding the classified nature and disposition of those emails were false. 

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Lynch only admitted that she adopted Comey’s final recommendation and that of unidentified others on the Department of Justice team not to prosecute as she promised the country she would do after her unusual meeting with Bill ClintonBill ClintonAll five living former presidents to attend hurricane relief concert The Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE on her plane, a meeting which she admitted “cast a shadow” over the integrity of the investigation.  

Members were rightly troubled by the alacrity of both Comey’s and her decision to close the case following so closely on the heels of Clinton’s FBI unrecorded interview, as if that interview were pro forma. 

Although the FBI is responsible for investigating possible violations of federal law, according to the FBI’s own procedures posted on its website, the “FBI does not give an opinion or decide if an individual will be prosecuted. The federal prosecutors employed by the Department of Justice or the U.S. Attorneys offices are responsible for making this decision and for conducting the prosecution of the case.”  

Neither Comey nor Lynch explained by what authority Comey violated the FBI’s own procedures by making a recommendation. After his public statement in the name of transparency criticizing Secretary Clinton’s mishandling of her emails, Comey should have instead ended it by stating that the FBI would be turning over its factual findings to the Department of Justice without proffering his crabbed reading of the law and co-opting the decision making by recommending that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring such a case. Unless, as Members pointed out during the hearing, you were in the military and were found to have done much less than Mrs. Clinton. 

Towards the end of the hearing, an obviously frustrated Congressman Doug Collins of Georgia tried to get Lynch to answer even the simplest question of law having nothing to do with Clinton’s emails when he asked her if someone is driving 65 mph in a 55 mph zone, has that person broken the law? Lynch replied, “You’d have to ask the highway patrolman” to audible gasps and laughter in the audience at her continued refusal to be forthcoming. 

What is not a laughing matter are both the “gross negligence” and intentional mishandling of highly sensitive national security information by Mrs. Clinton that was likely accessed by hostile countries, despite President Obama’s uninformed opinion before any investigation was complete that she did not jeopardize national security.  

The American public is rightly concerned about this double standard of justice and anxiously await the results of the pending Clinton Foundation and lying to Congress investigations.

Kamenar is a Washington, D.C. public policy lawyer and is a frequent guest lecturer on National Security Law at the U.S. Naval Academy.