Subpoenas for Loretta Lynch and James Comey—Why Now?

November 18, 2018 Updated: November 19, 2018


It was breaking news on Nov. 16 that the House Judiciary Committee, after threatening for more than a year to issue subpoenas to top players in the Spygate scandal to compel their testimony, will, in fact, issue two—to former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former FBI Director James Comey.

CNN reported this claim, based upon what appears to be a single source.

“The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee, in its final days in power, is planning to issue subpoenas to former FBI Director James Comey and President Barack Obama’s attorney general Loretta Lynch, according to a source with knowledge of the subpoenas,” the CNN article states.

“The source said the committee chairman, Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, plans to issue the subpoenas on Monday for Comey to appear for a closed-door deposition on November 29 and for Lynch to appear on December 5. The interviews are part of the House Republican investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe and the Russia investigation.”

Note the fact there is only a single anonymous source for this claim that Goodlatte will be issuing subpoenas “on Monday,” which is Nov. 19. Given the mainstream news media’s track record over the past two years of Trump/GOP coverage, a healthy dose of skepticism and a desire to wait to actually arrive to see if any such subpoenas are issued would be completely understandable and defensible.

But hey, I’m a political pundit, and a lot of what I do involves speculating, so here we go!

If indeed this single anonymous source can be trusted and the information being relayed in secret to CNN is accurate, the question that arises immediately upon hearing this news is, why only now?

Many are speculating that if this does indeed happen now, it’s happening only because the GOP lost control of the House to the Democrats, and they must act quickly before they lose control of the committees. That could well be true, but that’s not the only reason this could be happening at this time.

It could be that there are big developments coming that will immediately shift the ground on the Spygate scandal from where it’s been stuck for some time.

What could some of these developments be? Off the top of my head, I can think of three:

Trump Declassification of Spygate Documents

Comey has refused to testify to congressional committees in closed-door hearings, insisting that any further testimony he gives must be public, as CNN related in its report:

“Comey’s lawyer, David Kelley, told CNN on Friday that, ‘We have not heard from them since October 1, when we advised the committees (Judiciary, Oversight, and Reform) that, while we respectfully declined their invitation for a closed-door interview, we would welcome the opportunity to testify in a public hearing.’

“Comey has previously rejected the committee’s request for him to appear privately before the GOP-led inquiry, saying he would rather testify publicly instead.”

Comey and his lawyer are attempting a transparent stunt here, because so much of the Spygate-related documentation has been classified to this point. Demanding an open and publicly televised hearing, when he and his lawyer are well aware that the committee wants to question him about matters that were still deemed classified at that time, means any such hearing held would be pointless and a waste of time. Comey could simply refuse to answer any questions related to classified matters.

However, there are strong signs this could be about to change. Trump has openly stated several times that he fully intends to declassify all the main documentation in the Spygate scandal and publicly release them.

When Trump announced in September he would move to declassify everything, this led to media headlines like this one from CNN: “Trump Inflames War on Justice Dept. by Declassifying Russia Docs.” And this one from NBC News: “In A Stunning Move, Trump Declassifies Documents Related to Russia Probe.

Trump then announced he would “review” the declassification further before making a decision, and Democrats and the mainstream media declared victory with headlines such as “Trump Backs Away From Demand to Declassify Documents Related to Russia Investigation.” Then they all promptly moved on and forgot that Trump can still declassify all this stuff any time he wants and absolutely nobody could stop him from doing so.

End of the Mueller Investigation

There are multiple signs the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller will be ending soon. If so, that removes one of the biggest arguments of those who oppose Spygate declassification: that it would harm the ongoing Mueller investigation. If the Mueller investigation is no longer ongoing, if it’s ended, then it can’t be argued that Trump publicly revealing things such as the entire unredacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Carter Page is “harming” the Mueller team’s work.

Comey himself made a statement in a radio interview in late September, saying that Mueller’s investigation is in “the fourth quarter.” And all through August and September, and into October, there where numerous news stories about more and more members of Mueller’s investigative team departing, with no new arrivals joining to replace them.

Release of the DOJ Inspector General’s Spygate Report

This is also likely a sign that Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s long-awaited report on the Spygate scandal is almost finished, and might already be in the draft stage. When an inspector general report is in the draft stage, copies of it are given to the principal targets and to congressional oversight, so that they can respond before the final draft is made.

So it could be that Goodlatte and other committee members have gotten a look at Horowitz’s draft report of his deep dive into all the issues surrounding Spygate, which are numerous.

This report has taken a long time because Horowitz has had to backtrack through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) warrants, to the DOJ, to Fusion GPS and its Steele dossier, to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Documenting all this had to be done in painstaking fashion.

It must be remembered that all the major movement on the Spygate scandal has come from Horowitz and his team of investigators. As I’ve related in earlier columns, it’s not actually the congressional committees that are driving the exposure of the Spygate scandal; it’s actually been Horowitz, his investigators, and U.S. attorneys such as John Huber, who are working in tandem with him. And overseeing all their efforts—up until around a week ago—was Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Not only is Congress not driving the real movement on the exposure of the Spygate scandal, as I’ve stressed repeatedly over the past year, but also, since members of Congress immediately leaked what classified/unredacted Spygate documents were given to them, several people sitting on these congressional committees are targets of leak investigations being run by the DOJ.

The release of both Horowitz’s report and Trump’s action of declassifying the Spygate documents will eliminate the threat of political partisans engaging in politically motivated anonymous leaks to news outlets, trying to spin things to their advantage.

So there you have it—three developments that, if any or all of them were about to occur, would cause the House Judiciary Committee to suddenly make the move it’s been endlessly talking about doing for more than a year.

Brian Cates is a political pundit and writer based in South Texas and the author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter at @drawandstrike.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.