While testifying last year at a closed-door House Oversight Committee hearing last June, Comey said Lynch had pressured him to minimize the significance of the Clinton email probe - an encounter which he says left him questioning her impartiality, and - along with Lynch's clandestine tarmac meeting on a hot summer's day in 2016 - contributed to his decision to hold a July 2016 press conference announcing the FBI's conclusions.
"The attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me," said Comey. "That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude, 'I have to step away from the department if we're to close this case credibly.'"
Lynch, meanwhile, told congressional the House Oversight and Judiciary committees on December 19: "I did not. I have never instructed a witness as to what to say specifically. Never have, never will."
"I didn't direct anyone to use specific phraseology. When the Director asked me how to best to handle that, I said: What I have been saying is we have received a referral and we are working on the matter, working on the issue, or we have all the resources we need to handle the matter, handle the issue. So that was the suggestion that I made to him," Lynch added - telling lawmakers that she was "quite surprised" to hear how Comey would later describe the conversation "because that was not how it was conveyed to him, certainly not how it was intended."