Comey also stirred fresh questions about the conduct of Sessions’ predecessor as attorney general, Loretta Lynch.

The former FBI director said that Lynch asked him to refer to the Hillary Clinton email investigation as a “matter” — as opposed to an “investigation” — before a hearing in September.

Comey testified that he didn’t resist the request because it “isn’t a hill worth dying on” and because he expected media reports to “completely ignore it” and refer to it as an investigation anyway. Still, he said that Lynch’s request “concerned” him because the language she suggested resembled the language the Clinton campaign itself was using.

A source familiar with Lynch’s thinking defended her actions in a statement to NBC News:

“The AG told Director Comey that she had used the term ‘matter’ in response to press inquiries, in order to ensure that she neither confirmed nor denied the investigation, in accordance with longstanding Justice Department and FBI policy. She suggested that she and the director should be consistent in their language, and at the end of the meeting, she asked if everyone was comfortable with using the term ‘matter.’ No one, including the director, contested that view.”


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