WASHINGTON — Attorney General Loretta Lynch objected to the decision by FBI Director James Comey to notify Congress that the bureau was reviewing newly discovered emails that might be related to the previously closed investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information, according to an official familiar with the matter.
Lynch's views were relayed to Comey just hours before the FBI director transmitted a letter to federal lawmakers indicating that investigators were reviewing the emails that may or may not be pertinent to the Clinton case that was closed in July, said the official who is not authorized to comment publicly.
The official said Lynch was standing by long-standing Justice Department policy that federal authorities should not take any action that may interfere with an election. While Lynch made her position clear, the official said Comey acted independently of the attorney general.
A second federal law enforcement official familiar with Comey's decision said Saturday that The FBI director considered the attorney general's advice during a spirited discussion of the matter Thursday and early Friday but felt compelled to act.
The emergence of the FBI director’s letter to Republican lawmakers has jolted the presidential race in its final 10 days, angering the Clinton camp and giving Donald Trump and Republicans new hope.
Vice President Biden called the situation “unfortunate” and urged the FBI to “release the emails for the whole world to see.” That was the message Clinton sent Friday night when she said, “the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately.”
Until Friday, Clinton appeared to be coasting to a comfortable victory on Nov. 8, with campaign aides talking openly about expanding the Electoral College map to previously safe Republican states such as Arizona, Georgia and even Texas. National polls variously showed her leading by anywhere from 4 to 12 points.
But Comey’s decision to mention new emails – without any immediate prospect of clarifying their content – created new opportunities for the Trump campaign.