FBI Director James Comey is now ‘taking over’ the Clinton case. Although Lynch still makes the final say. Will he be able to stay away from Bill’s ‘soft threats’?
FBI Director James Comey is now firmly in the driver’s seat of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, after Attorney General Loretta Lynch pledged she would accept whatever course of action his bureau and career prosecutors recommend.
Lynch’s influence will continue to be felt throughout the department, and her refusal to fully remove herself from the case ensures that she will continue to be briefed about its developments. Prosecutors within her department — not the FBI — will ultimately decide whether or not to press ahead with charges.
But her decision makes Comey the public face of the investigation. And his reputation as a well-respected but hard-nosed maverick might give Democrats some worry about the outcome of the probe, which is nearing its one-year anniversary later this month.
“Comey is the center of gravity on this thing,” said Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director and president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.
“There is a growing expectation that we the public need to hear the FBI, Jim Comey version of whether or not charges will be brought,” he added. “There has probably been increasing recognition by her that that’s true, that she is viewed as — regardless of her prior reputation as an effective prosecutor — she’s now the head of Obama’s DOJ, a political position in a Democratic administration that is deciding on the prosecution or not of the leading Democratic candidate.”
Lynch on Friday succumbed to the intensifying public pressure on her following Monday’s private 30-minute meeting in Phoenix with former President Clinton.
Lynch maintained for days that the unplanned meeting was purely social and did not touch on the case against Clinton’s wife or any other legal matter.
But it nonetheless “cast a shadow over how this case may be perceived,” she conceded during a discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado.
As a result, Lynch announced that she would accept the recommendations of the FBI and federal prosecutors. The top prosecutor had already made the decision privately, she said, but felt compelled to make it public due to the growing backlash.
“This case will be resolved by the team that’s been working on it from the beginning,” she said.
“Supervisors always review matters. In this case, that review will be career people in the Department of Justice, and also the FBI will review it, up to and including the FBI director,” Lynch added. “And that will be the finalization of not just the factual findings, but the next steps in this matter.”
ABC News reported on Friday that Hillary Clinton could be interviewed by the FBI “in the coming days.”
In deferring to others, Lynch failed to go as far as some GOP critics had hoped. Multiple Republican lawmakers have said that she should completely remove herself and other political appointees from the case and instead appoint a special prosecutor.