Buried deep in a Freedom of Information Act document release last week to a conservative group were a series of emails that pertained to how the Justice Department handled questions from reporters about a 2016 airport tarmac meeting between former President Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch – the emails included a recipient named, “Elizabeth Carlisle,” which reports now indicate was the email alias for President Obama’s Attorney General.
“The ACLJ has unmasked former Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s alias email account,” the American Center for Law and Justice announced on its website, showing off details of how the Justice Department crafted a “Talking points/statement” – though those internal deliberations were redacted (blacked out).
The emails among Justice Department officials make no effort to avoid identifying her as “AG Lynch” – but those emails are addressed to “Carlisle, Elizabeth,” or ‘email@example.com.’
The first request for information about the Lynch-Clinton tarmact meeting came on the afternoon of June 28, when Mike Levine, the Justice Department producer for ABC News, asked officials for comment, saying that his network’s affiliate in Phoenix was hearing reports about it.
That was followed by similar requests from Fox News, CBS, the Wall Street Journal and other news organizations.
The initial response to reporters from the Justice Department press office was to simply send a transcript of Lynch’s response to a question about the meeting, during an event she held in Phoenix.
Former FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress earlier this year that he was alarmed by the optics of the meeting between Lynch and Clinton, coming just as the FBI was wrapping up its investigation into questions about the email server used by Mr. Clinton’s wife, the former Secretary of State.
It was just over a week later that FBI officials questioned Hillary Clinton, and then made the announcement that no charges would be filed against her, despite questions about her email security, and how she handled classified materials.
“Her meeting with President Clinton on that airplane, was the capper for me,” Comey told Senators in March, as he said that Clinton-Lynch meeting led him to go public with details about the investigation – something that drew fire from Democrats and Hillary Clinton supporters during the 2016 campaign.
The discovery of the email alias involving Lynch is now spurring other Freedom of Information Act requests, which could well uncover other emails – and department business – that was conducted by Lynch during her time as Attorney General.
As mentioned above, there are no real details offered about the internal deliberations of the DOJ on the question of the Lynch-Clinton meeting.
“The DOJ heavily redacted the documents under FOIA Exemption b (5), which allows agencies to withhold draft or deliberative process material,” the group Judicial Watch noted last week when the FOIA documents were released.
It was only then that people began digging through the details, and discovered what seemed to be the link to Lynch.