Comey did not usurp attorney general's authority

Regardless of what one thinks about James Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, his "original sin," according to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and other critics, was his publicly announcing the results of the FBI's investigation last July and subsequent announcements related to that investigation ("Don't say we didn't warn you, Rod Rosenstein," May 11). Mr. Rosenstein blasted Mr. Comey for this, saying he was wrong to "usurp" the attorney general's authority and that the director "now defends his decision by asserting that he believed Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict."

What Mr. Rosenstein conveniently omitted was that this was not a newfound justification nor was the conflict something Mr. Comey "believed" but one made crystal clear by Ms. Lynch herself when she decided to quasi-recuse herself from the email investigation, not just after the ill-fated meeting with former President Bill Clinton on the tarmac; according to news reports, she had made that decision months earlier. 

As reported in the New York Times last July: "Ms. Lynch said she had decided this spring to defer to the recommendations of her staff and the FBI because her status as a political appointee sitting in judgment on a politically charged case would raise questions of a conflict of interest. But the meeting with Mr. Clinton, she acknowledged, had deepened those questions, and she said she now felt compelled to explain publicly her reasoning to try to put the concerns to rest."

Ms. Lynch's "I-may-have-a-conflict" remark was made July 1, 2016 while Mr. Comey's public statement was July 5.  

Can somebody set the record straight about Mr. Rosenstein's disingenous omission of this fact and his mischaracterization of Mr. Comey's "belief?" True, FBI policy is not to announce results of criminal investigations, but this case was sui generis.

Paul Kamenar, Chevy Chase

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