Tim Kaine: Comey’s Lynch comments ‘pretty much irrelevant’

Posted at 2:16 PM, Jun 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-09 14:16:05-04

Sen. Tim Kaine said Thursday’s revelations that former FBI Director James Comey was asked to alter his language when discussing an investigation involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be consigned to the past.

“I thought that was pretty much irrelevant in the hearing yesterday. 2016 is over. This is about 2017,” the 2016 Democratic vice presidential candidate told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Friday on “New Day.” “This is about a sitting president and why he fired the FBI director in a historic move and was that connected, as he suggested, to the Russians and his office the next day with his desire to undermine the Russia investigation.”

Comey testified at the Senate intelligence committee on the government’s investigation into Russian meddling in the US election and his firing by President Donald Trump.

He said what “capped” his decision to make his now-famous statement about the results of an investigation involving Clinton was a publicly reported meeting between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton. After Clinton and Lynch met as their planes were on the same tarmac, Comey said he decided he had to “protect the credibility of the investigation.”

Comey said Lynch’s request that he call the Justice Department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server a “matter” as opposed to an “investigation” partially lead to his decision to publicly comment on the situation.

But Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, said there was no decision within the campaign to use the word “matter” opposed to investigation.

“Never,” he said. “I used the word investigation all the time.”

“The papers were filled for weeks with the story — there was no talking point about that,” he added.

The Republican National Committee and GOP lawmakers highlighted Comey’s revelation about Lynch after the hearing, but Kaine said they should focus on the ongoing investigations into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

“I know the Republicans are trying to seize on things to distract,” he said. “They are trying to close their eyes to the impact of this investigation. But I think the American public sees how serious it is and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it.”