Congress to question Obama officials in probe
Former attorney general, ambassador will answer questions
Committees focused on Russian meddling in 2016 election
Two high-ranking Obama administration officials — former attorney general Loretta Lynch and former United Nations ambassador Samantha Power — will soon answer questions from congressional investigators looking into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Power is scheduled to meet with the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session Friday morning, according to a congressional aide who did not have authorization to speak on the record.
Lynch will answer questions on Capitol Hill next week, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly. She is likely to meet behind closed doors with both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
The committees are focusing on suspected Russian interference and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The panels also have been interested in talking to Obama administration officials about the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have focused on the “unmasking ” of Trump campaign aides by former Obama administration officials. President Trump and House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., complained that Obama administration officials disclosed the names of Trump’s campaign aides in classified intelligence reports that were leaked to the news media.
The unmasking issue has been raised by the White House and Trump supporters as a sugges- tion that the Russia investigation is politically motivated. Democrats largely dismissed it as an attempt to divert attention.
Power is likely to be questioned Friday about whether she asked that the names of Trump aides be disclosed in classified documents. Former national security adviser Susan Rice answered similar questions before the House and Senate Intelligence committees this year.
Lynch was at the center of several controversies involving the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server. Former FBI director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee at a public hearing in June that he got “a queasy feeling ” when Lynch told him to refer publicly to the Clinton investiga- tion as “a matter” rather than as an investigation.
Comey said Lynch’s direction gave the “impression” that the government aligned its work with the Clinton campaign.
Comey concluded that Clinton was “extremely careless” in handling classified information, but there was no evidence she intended to break the law. He did not seek any charges against her.
Lynch drew criticism for meeting with Bill Clinton on his airplane at an Arizona airport in June 2016 while the Department of Justice was investigating his wife. Lynch and the former president said the chance encounter was nothing more than an exchange of pleasantries. Lynch expressed regret over the meeting.
Trump fired Comey in May as the director was leading the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion. Congressional investigators are looking into Comey’s firing as part of their inquiries.
Comey said he was fired after Trump asked him to drop his investigation of Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser. Trump fired Flynn in February after Flynn misled Vice President Pence about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Loretta Lynch drew criticism for meeting with Bill Clinton on his airplane while the Department of Justice was investigating his wife.
Loretta Lynch, attorney general under President Obama, was involved in the Clinton email controversy.