Former AG Lynch Used Alias for Emails About Controversial Clinton Meeting

August 8, 2017 Updated: August 8, 2017

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch used an alias for official emails as attorney general, including emails about her controversial meeting with former President Bill Clinton aboard her Justice Department jet as it was parked on the tarmac in Phoenix.

Watchdog groups Judicial Watch and American Center for Law and Justice obtained 413 pages of Justice Department documents through a request made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Among the documents were emails that revealed Lynch used the alias “Elizabeth Carlisle.”  

Lynch is not the first senior federal official to use an email alias, a practice that was seen elsewhere in the Obama administration due to spam and security concerns, said officials defending the practice.

Vice News obtained documents from the Department of Justice in February 2016 that revealed Lynch’s predecessor, Eric Holder, used the alias “Lew Alcindor.” That is the former name of retired NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Vice obtained the documents through an FOIA suit. The revelation that Holder used an alias for official business raised concerns about email practices in the Obama administration, and whether it would be possible to obtain all such communications subject to the FOIA.

Among the topics Lynch used her alias email for were messages to help craft responses to media requests about her unusual meeting with Bill Clinton. The meeting took place as Lynch’s department wrestled with what to do about the ongoing investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email scandal.

Lynch later claimed that she and the former president did not discuss his wife’s potential prosecution or anything related to the FBI’s investigation. Lynch did seem to take a personal interest in the investigation, however, going out of her way to tell former head of the FBI, James Comey, to refer to the Clinton email scandal as a “matter” rather than an “investigation.” Comey revealed the conversation during his testimony before Congress on June 8.

He said the request left him feeling “queasy.”

Another Obama-era appointment to use an email alias was former IRS official Lois Lerner. Lerner was appointed Director of Exempt Organizations in 2006 and led 900 employees in an effort to target conservative groups in a fashion that made it impossible for them to take part in the 2012 election. The Department of Justice—under Holder at the time—investigated the practice but decided not to prosecute. Lerner resigned over the controversy.

Former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 5, 2014, during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the the agency's targeting of tea party groups, where she invoked her constitutional right not to incriminate herself. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

In Lynch’s case, her attorney, Robert Raben, told The Daily Caller that Justice Department staffers who process FOIA requests are aware of the alias and that the agency had acknowledged its use as far back as February 2016.

Lynch has denied any serious wrongdoing in the 30-minute meeting with former President Clinton, and says they discussed grandchildren and other matters. Clinton boarded her plane uninvited, reportedly, and Lynch says she regrets having allowed the meeting.