As fired FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday mostly on his conversations and communications with President Donald Trump, he revealed one bit of major news unrelated to the growing investigations involving the White House.
And a law professor says that looking back, the incident could have changed the course of last year's presidential election.
Comey said during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked him to refer to the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as a "matter" instead of an "investigation."
Click through the best reactions to James Comey's Senate testimony:
Reactions to James Comey's Senate testimony
Reactions to James Comey's Senate testimony
This is history in the making, folks. #ComeyDay #ComeyTestimony #TimeToSetTheRecordStraight #ComeyPleaseSaveUs https://t.co/BvLx0eWjdY
At some point I hope he tells us what he's been binge watching on Netflix since he lost his job #ComeyTestimony
What idiot decided to call it the #ComeyTestimony instead of James and the Giant Impeach?
#comey "It confused me when I learned on television that I was fired over the Russia investigation." #ComeyTestimony
I hope this #ComeyTestimony pilot gets picked up for a full season. It's a bit House of Cards meets American Horror Story, but it's solid.
Comey has now said that Trump has aimed to defame him and the FBI. He literally just called Trump a liar. #ComeyTestimony
Do you have any doubt of Russia's interference in the 2016 election? Comey: None #ComeyTestimony
Comey: "The FBI is honest, the FBI is strong. The FBI is and always will be independent." #ComeyTestimony
Was the FBI able to confirm any allegations in the dossier? "not a question I can answer in an open setting" #ComeyTestimony
If you're tweeting about ANYTHING other than #ComeyTestimony right now...don't. This is maybe the most important thing this year. #comeyday
Sure sounds like the Steele dossier is “credible,” but honestly is anyone at this point surprised? #ComeyTestimony
Maaaaaan this ain't no Super Bowl #Comey #ComeyTestimony #Testicomey
"Not a question I can answer in an open setting"? Come on Comey you don't have a job to lose. #ComeyTestimony
Twitter waiting on Trump tweets #ComeyTestimony https://t.co/pCUiZJoCnR
Comey: Bill Clinton's meeting with AG Loretta Lynch contributed to his decision to publicly discuss Clinton email probe. #ComeyTestimony
One thing is CLEAR: Comey is a highly respected, former member of our government. I can feel the sadness of many. #ComeyTestimony
"I was concerned he might lie." -- former FBI director about the President of the United States. #ComeyTestimony
Now we know what Trump whispered into Comey's ear: "I really look forward to working with you" #ComeyTestimony https://t.co/d0Ij5kYYnV
Comey says he was confused when @realDonaldTrump kept asking him if he wanted the job after telling him 3x he could stay. #ComeyTestimony
Comey on Oval mtg: "I'm 56 yo. I've seen a few things...I knew something was about to happen that I needed to pay very close attention to."
It's sad that I enjoy this far more than I do watching any sporting event. #ComeyTestimony #DCSuperBowl
Comey just gave a good lecture on using leaked info, which is often wrong or misleading #ComeyTestimony
"I take the President at his word that I was fired because of the Russia investigation." - #ComeyTestimony
Comey on Trump's loyalty demand: "I don't know the president well enough to read him well. … it was very awkward." #ComeyTestimony
Comey: Lordy, I hope there are tapes. #ComeyTestimony
Feinstein with the most important Q so far: why didn't you tell #Trump this wasn't appropriate? #ComeyTestimony
"Nice job you got there. 'I hope' nothing happens to it." #ComeyTestimony
Whoever is in charge of hiding the president's phone this morning deserves a raise. #ComeyTestimony
"... the odor of Presidential abuse of power is so strong." - Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon. #ComeyTestimony
"A J. Edgar Hoover situation" can mean a lot of things. #ComeyTestimony
Comey is a really good, experienced witness #ComeyTestimony
OK. The written testimony needed to be pre-reading for ALL of the senators. #ComeyTestimony
I've never wanted Trump to tweet so badly in my entire life. Pick your phone up! Do it!! DO IT!!!!
"A gut feel" = why #ComeySays he kept memos of Trump meetings #ComeyTestimony
#ComeyTestimony "The Russians interfered in our election in 2016-2017... there is no fuzz on that... that's about as unfake as you can get"
Why did he kick everyone out….As an investigator that's a very significant act. #ComeyTestimony
"They'll be back," Comey says of election meddling by the Russians. #ComeyTestimony
Comey says he broke date night with his wife to attend dinner with President Trump. Moral of story, never break date night? #ComeyTestimony
Comey on leaking to the media: "Like feeding seagulls at the beach"
"I need loyalty, I expect loyalty."
Front pages today @BostonGlobe @bostonherald #ComeyTestimony @boston25 https://t.co/fIjAlmwqDe
#comey was asked if he thought he would've been fired if Hillary Clinton was president: "I don't know." #ComeyTestimony
Comey: If @realDonaldTrump taped me, 'my feelings aren't hurt. Release all of the tapes. I'm good with it' #ComeyTestimony
"That's Bob Mueller's job to sort that out." When asked whether this arises to obstruction of justice. #ComeyTestimony
Laughter as Comey says he's 'between opportunities' right now. #ComeyTestimony
Senators have 7 minutes to ask questions; not sure why they waste 90 seconds of it on waffle-y preamble #ComeyTestimony
Trump's lawyer expected to make a statement after the Comey hearing finishes #ComeyDay #ComeyTestimony
“I’m not sure if he’s watched any of” #ComeyTestimony, “it’s a regular Thursday of the White House,” says @SHSanders45.
If Comey didn’t trust Trump, he should have resigned. #ComeyTestimony
"I was fired to change the way the Russian investigation was being conducted." #ComeyTestimony
"I'm not going to sit here and try to interpret the president's tweets." - Comey #ComeyHearings #ComeyDay https://t.co/HLXrGxWHZ8
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
Comey said the request he recalled "gave me a queasy feeling." It also echoed language the Clinton campaign itself was using.
"That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we're to close this case credibly," Comey said.
After hearing Comey's Thursday remarks, Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham University, said he could no longer "stand by my earlier criticism that the GOP was asking about Clinton email to distract from the Trump questions."
"They may have intended to change the subject, but they found a real subject to investigate further," he added in an email to Business Insider.
The professor called the apparent pressuring of Comey to use "matter" instead of "investigation" a "huge mistake" and "a partisan intrusion" on Lynch's part.
It "probably changed history by making Comey more skeptical about her and the Clintons' role," he said. "I inferred that it had an effect on Comey that may have changed how he handled the investigation later. She will face very tough questions. And it validates the follow-up questions on the Clinton campaign on their handling the email."
"We will hear a lot about this," he added. "It does not rise to obstruction, because it was wording/semantic, not the substance of investigation, but Comey was right to be troubled. Lynch and Bill Clinton should be called to testify and explain their behavior. What's obstruction for the goose is obstruction for the gander."
Comey gave a press conference early last July announcing that he would not recommend charges, while painting Clinton and her team as "extremely careless." In late October, in a moment that had a significant implications for the November election, Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing that new materials warranted a reopening of the case. But days later, he announced that the new materials, which were found on disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner's computer, did not warrant further investigation.
Comey originally felt the need to deliver that July press conference after former President Bill Clinton met with Lynch aboard a plane on a tarmac in Arizona.