US & Canada

Comey 'confused' by order to refer to Clinton email probe as a 'matter'

Hillary Clinton speaks during BookExpo 2017 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, June 1, 2017 in New York City Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hillary Clinton was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by the FBI

Former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch ordered the then head of the FBI to refer to the inquiry into Hillary Clinton's emails as a "matter" rather than an investigation, he has said.

James Comey told a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that he was "confused and concerned" by the remark.

He said it was one of the reasons he felt compelled to announce his findings into the case.

The email controversy dogged Mrs Clinton's presidential campaign.

Some say it was responsible for her election defeat.

Mr Comey announced last July that an investigation into Mrs Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state would be closed without prosecution.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption James Comey said he was concerned by the request from Loretta Lynch

"At one point the attorney general directed me not to call it an investigation but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me," Mr Comey told senators.

Donald Trump has alleged that Mrs Lynch agreed to let Mrs Clinton off the hook in return for the promise that she would keep her job if the Democrat won the election and became president.