Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch went by the alias 'Elizabeth Carlisle' in email she used to conduct government business.
Lynch's pseudonym was confirmed in a report by the Daily Caller, which shows Lynch sometimes preferred to use another name while doing work, just as her predecessor Eric Holder did. The finding came after several batches of emails were released last week from conservative watchdog groups who had requested documents from the Justice Department using the Freedom of Information Act.
Judicial Watch and the American Center for Law and Justice sought documents related to former President Bill Clinton's meeting with then-Attorney General Lynch in an airplane on the runway tarmac in Phoenix. The meeting was scarcely noticed at first, but eventually created a controversy over possible conflicts of interest about the ongoing investigation by the FBI into Hillary Clinton's email server.
The use of an alias has become more commonplace among top government officials in recent years, as many of them feel the need to have a separate email account that isn't overwhelmed with a flood of minor emails.
A similar email alias created a firestorm of controversy around former President Barack Obama's head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, who used an email alias of Richard Windsor. Jackson, however, apparently engaged in some email conversations while keeping her real identity concealed.
Lynch's attorney pointed to an article from February 2016 in which the Justice Department acknowledged that Lynch was using an alias account.
The use of alias accounts aren't illegal, and for the most part are seen as acceptable provided that emails which ought to be discovered and turned over in response to FOIA requests or subpoenas aren't hidden when they are requested under FOIA.
The emails uncovered last week did reveal new bits of information about the "tarmac" meeting.
Another set of emails released by Judicial Watch contained the Justice Department's talking points about the meeting – only the main talking points were redacted by the government before they were released.