John Podesta had written an op-ed in the Washington Post “trashing” the FBI – as CNN’s Jake Tapper put it – for spending more time investigating Hillary Clinton’s email server than on the DNC hacks (and/or leaks).
Attorney General Loretta Lynch did not agree with Podesta’s sentiments, saying that while he’s “entitled to his opinion,” “he’s not involved in the on-going investigation, so he wouldn’t be privy to everything that would have been done.”
Lynch of course is going along with the scripted and unsubstantiated claims that Russia was behind everything, but she’s not going to say that one investigation was more important than the other. They were two separate and different cases, the importance of which can’t be measured by Podesta’s perception of the FBI’s reactions.
Here’s CNN’s Jake Tapper’s interview with outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch, taken from RCP:
TAPPER: I have to ask you about this op-ed in the Washington Post by Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. He said he’s “surprised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI discovered the Russian attack in September of 2015 it failed to send even a single Agent to warn senior DNC officials. Instead messages were left with the DNC IT help desk.”
Is that accurate? Is that an accurate description of the outreach that the FBI did to the DNC and if so, is that sufficient?
LYNCH: So as we talked about earlier this year, the investigation into the hacks of the DNC and DCCC is an on-going investigation. It’s an active investigation. So I am not able to comment on the specifics on how people were contacted. But I can say, that the FBI has worked closely with those organizations both to discuss what we learned about the hacks and to gather information about them so that we can continue this investigation.
TAPPER: Whether or not you can get into specifics, is it true that there was this level of calling the DNC that doesn’t sound particularly competent or doesn’t sound like it has an urgency that one would think. Is that description that Podesta makes accurate?
LYNCH I can tell you that this investigation was taken seriously from the beginning. This is an incredibly serious issue. I can’t comment on Mr. Podesta’s sources or where he gets his information. Or why he has that view. But what I can say is that he’s not involved in the on-going investigation so he wouldn’t be privy to everything that would have been done or said to that. But as I said, he’s entitled to his opinion.
TAPPER: But’s he not entitled to his facts and that’s what I’m wondering about. Whether his facts are accurate. Because he says, quote down right infuriating nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to the DNC, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had help maintain Hillary Clinton’s email server. He is suggesting without question that Hillary Clinton’s email server got more attention from the Justice Department and the FBI than this hack investigation by Russia. Which I think is fair to say seems fairly serious.
LYNCH: Well that’s an on-going investigation, so I will say it’s been taken very seriously.
TAPPER: Did the Clinton email investigation get more attention than the hack?
LYNCH: You can’t characterize it. And I don’t think it’s going to be helpful to try and draw equivalencies to any investigations with others to say, therefore it means that one was more or less important. Because one is resolved right now. One is finished and one is very active and very on-going. So there you see a great deal of activity still continuing.
TAPPER: I know you can’t comment on the active investigation. But let me put it this way, John Podesta is out there trashing the FBI. He is saying that the investigation into the hacks of the DNC was sub-standard. And that’s clearly what he’s saying. Do you agree with that characterization?
LYNCH: I don’t. I don’t. First of all, the investigation isn’t even over. So I think it’s impossible to characterize it in any one way or the other. I also think that – – again, I don’t know where Mr. Podesta is obtaining information.
TAPPER: He said the New York Times story. There’s a big New York Times story. I’m sure you’ve read it.
LYNCH: I know also because of his involvement with the campaign, he’s going to have a certain interest in this and a certain view of that. So again, I allow him, he’s opinion. Everyone has a great deal of respect for him. So I allow him that opinion, but I disagree with that, if that is in fact the characterization he’s trying to make. I think you got to look at every investigation separately. You got to look at every case separately. And you got to allow for the fact that the way in which someone may be contacted isn’t indicative of the fuller relationship they develop or the response they may have gotten initially from that organization as well.
There are some political dynamics at play here. Loretta Lynch is the head of the Department of Justice, which is ostensibly independent of the President’s influence. The FBI is under the DOJ’s authority. Lynch can’t come out and criticize an organization which she oversees. She’s got to have their back.
Another dynamic explains why the CIA – which is under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) – has been so quick to blame Russia. The ODNI is directly under the President, and the CIA reports to the ODNI. They’re not independent of the President.
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