The Department of Justice has released 413 pages of emails about the private meeting held during the 2016 presidential campaign by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton during the FBI’s investigation into then-presidential-candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails relating to the Benghazi disaster. Earlier that year, the FBI claimed that those records did not exist. DOJ released the information following a November 2016 lawsuit filed by the American Council for Law and Justice (ACLJ). The emails include those between Obama administration officials in the DOJ and various reporters who were seeking comment on the the Clinton/Lynch meeting, which was held on the airport tarmac in Phoenix, Arizona, in June 2016.

The meeting raised concerns and engendered rumors about whether or not DOJ was impartial in its investigation of Hillary Clinton, thus becoming an issue during the election. ACLJ noted that under the erstwhile FBI Director James Comey, the agency originally denied the existence of the records. “No records responsive to your request were located,” wrote FBI Chief of Record/Information David Hardy to ACLJ’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. “For your information, Congress excluded three discrete categories of law enforcement and national security records from the requirements of the FOIA.”

ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow, the son of President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, told that it was the FBI’s “definitive” answer, and DOJ’s silence, that triggered the FOIA request. “The Comey FBI lied to us.”

Among the documents were exchanges between Richard Quinn, an FBI media official, and Melanie Newman of DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs. An email sent by Newman under the subject line “FLAG”, said she wanted to “flag a story that is gaining some traction” about the “casual, unscheduled meeting” between Lynch and Clinton. Newman told Quinn to “let me know if you get any questions about this.” Although the documents [all of which are emails] including talking points are supposedly public statements, and were sent to reporters at establishment media, much of them were redacted.  There were numerous pages that were blacked out.

The types of records requested in the FOIA filed by ACLJ last July are those regarding:

--communications received from Bill Clinton or regarding his presence;

--meeting-related discussions or decision;

--discussion of ethics rules or professional codes of conduct governing attorneys; and

--discussion of or decisions on response to press;

--names of DOJ officials involved in meeting-related discussions or decisions;

--any discussions of Bill Clinton.




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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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