Reported by Chuck Ross | Reporter | 9:32 AM 08/07/2017
Like her predecessor, Eric Holder, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch used an email alias to conduct government business, The Daily Caller has confirmed.
Several of Lynch’s emails were included in 413 pages of DOJ documents provided to the conservative groups Judicial Watch and the American Center for Law and Justice. Both groups had filed lawsuits for records regarding Lynch’s controversial meeting with President Bill Clinton at the Phoenix airport last June 27.
Using the pseudonym “Elizabeth Carlisle,” Lynch corresponded with DOJ press officials to hammer out talking points in response to media requests about the meeting. The tarmac encounter drew criticism from conservatives because Lynch was overseeing the federal investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information on her private email system.
The meeting was revealed not by Lynch, Clinton or the Justice Department, but by a reporter in Phoenix working based on a tip.
On June 28, a reporter with Phoenix’s ABC News affiliate contacted the Justice Department to inquire about the meeting. Internal DOJ emails show that the request touched off a mad-dash to develop talking points and statements to respond to the developing story.
Lynch, using the Elizabeth Carlisle account, which was hosted on the Justice Department’s system, was also involved in those discussions.
Lynch’s attorney, Robert Raben, confirmed to TheDC on Monday that Lynch emailed under that pseudonym. He pointed to an article published in The Hill last February in which the Justice Department acknowledged that Lynch was using an email handle that was not her given name.
“That address was and is known to the individuals who process [Freedom of Information Act] requests; the practice, similar to using initials or numbers in an email, helps guard against security risks and prevent inundation of mailboxes,” Raben said.
The aversion to an overflowing email inbox was one of the defenses offered by Holder after his use of a pseudonym was revealed last year. Holder used the alias “Lew Alcindor” — the birth name of NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — as his email handle until he left DOJ in 2015.
The Carlisle emails were discovered over the weekend by followers of Reddit accounts that support President Trump. Some users developed the theory that Lynch used her grandmother’s name as a her pseudonym. Others concluded that Lynch broke the law by using a pseudonym, though it is not illegal for government officials to do so.
In one email, sent just minutes after ABC News inquired about the tarmac meeting, Melanie Newman, the director of DOJ’s public affairs office at the time, wrote an email to the Elizabeth Carlisle account that she addressed to “AG Lynch.”
Lynch responded later in the day to Newman and other DOJ officials.
“Thanks to all who worked on this,” reads the reply, which was ended with the initials “AG.”
Using the Carlisle account, Lynch was involved in several other email exchanges discussing drafts of talking points regarding her interaction with Clinton.
On June 29, Newman sent an email to the account — again with a greeting for “AG Lynch” — containing TV clips of news coverage of the airport encounter.
Lynch would go on to downplay her meeting with Clinton, though it had significant influence on the Clinton email probe.
Lynch claimed that the former president boarded her airplane uninvited and spoke for about 30 minutes with her and her husband. She said that the conversation centered on grandchildren and other mundane issues. She has insisted that the Hillary Clinton email investigation was not discussed.
Nevertheless, Lynch decided to relinquish control over the email investigation after acknowledging that the meeting could be interpreted in a negative light.
FBI Director James Comey stepped in to oversee the investigation, which came to an end on July 5 when he gave a press conference announcing that charges would not be filed against Clinton. Though Comey said that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the former secretary of state, he criticized her carelessness in using a private email account to send and receive classified information.
Other Obama administration officials have been caught using email aliases.
Former IRS official Lois Lerner, who targeted conservative non-profit groups seeking tax-exempt status, occasionally used the alias “Toby Miles” to send and receive work emails.
Lisa Jackson, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, infamously used the alias “Richard Windsor” to conduct work business.