Why don't we blame Attorney General Loretta Lynch for Hillary Clinton's loss?

Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

When it comes to Hillary Clinton's loss, there is plenty of blame to go around. Some observers have a new target, though, that takes some of the heat off FBI Director James Comey: his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The Washington Post reports that Lynch could have demanded Comey not send his fateful letter to Congress that informed the lawmakers — and the nation — of a renewed look into Clinton's emails after messages were discovered on a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. "If [Lynch] thought [the letter] violated department policy or was otherwise a bad idea, she could have ordered him not to send the letter," said Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith. "It was an astonishing failure of leadership and eschewal of responsibility, especially if Lynch really thought what Comey did was wrong."

Justice officials reportedly concluded that neither Lynch nor her deputy should tell Comey to withhold the letter, in part because they weren't sure how Comey would react and also because they were concerned about the optics of a potential leak. "Lynch and her advisers were nervous about how it would look if people found out that she, a Democratic presidential appointee, told Comey to keep secret from Congress a new development in the Clinton investigation," The Washington Post writes. "Instead, they tried to convince Comey that he had never promised to update Congress at every turn. He had merely said he would 'look at' any new information in the case."

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It didn't work. But while Comey came to bear the brunt of the blame of Clinton supporters — as well as of Clinton herself — Lynch has mostly made it out unscathed. Read more about her decision not to intervene at The Washington Post.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at TheWeek.com. She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.