Google is reportedly investigating Russian ad interference on some of its platforms during the 2016 election.
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WASHINGTON — Two high-ranking Obama administration officials — former attorney general Loretta Lynch and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power — will soon answer questions from congressional investigators probing Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Power is scheduled to meet with the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session Friday morning, according to a congressional aide who did not have authorization to speak on the record.
Lynch will answer questions on Capitol Hill next week, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly. She is expected to meet behind closed doors with both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
The committees are focusing on Russian interference in last year’s election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. However, the panels also have been interested in talking to Obama administration officials about the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have also focused on the “unmasking” of Trump campaign aides by former Obama administration officials. President Trump and House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., have complained that Obama administration officials disclosed the names of Trump’s campaign aides in classified intelligence reports that were later leaked to the media.
The unmasking issue has been raised by the White House and by Trump supporters as a suggestion that the Russia investigation has been politically motivated. But Democrats have largely dismissed it as an attempt to divert attention from possible collusion by Trump campaign officials with the Russians.
Power is expected to be questioned Friday about whether she asked that the names of Trump campaign aides be disclosed in classified documents. Former national security adviser Susan Rice answered similar questions before both the House and Senate Intelligence committees earlier this year.
Lynch was at the center of several controversies involving the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server. Former FBI director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee at a public hearing in June that he got “a queasy feeling” when Lynch told him to refer publicly to the Clinton investigation as “a matter” rather than as an investigation.
Comey said Lynch’s direction gave the “impression’’ that the government was aligning its work with the Clinton campaign.
Comey later concluded that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in handling classified information but there was no evidence that she intended to break the law. He did not seek any charges against her.
Lynch also drew criticism for meeting with former president Bill Clinton on his airplane at an Arizona airport in June 2016 while the Department of Justice was investigating his wife. Both Lynch and the former president said the chance encounter was nothing more than an exchange of pleasantries. Lynch later expressed regret at meeting with him.
Trump fired Comey in May as Comey was in the midst of leading the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Congressional investigators are looking into Comey’s firing as part of their probes.
Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors also are reportedly looking into whether Comey’s firing constitutes obstruction of justice. Comey said he was fired after Trump asked him to drop his investigation of Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser. Trump fired Flynn in February after Flynn misled Vice President Pence and other administration officials about his his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
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