Christopher Sign is a former Alabama football player. He is also an award-winning journalist for ABC 15 in Arizona, and a story he broke last June was a major piece of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s questioning of former FBI director James Comey Thursday morning.
Sign was a backup left guard and center for two Alabama teams that ultimately won the SEC West championship in the 1990s. As Yellowhammer readers may recall, he broke the story about former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch meeting with former President Bill Clinton on an aircraft while in Phoenix, Ariz. This meeting caused a significant backlash because of the ongoing (at the time) investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the handling of classified information.
Last July, Sign explained to Football Matters how the story and his reporting on it materialized. “Sources tipped me off about the meeting taking place and from that moment on, my goal was to report the facts,” he said. “I didn’t mention anything about Republicans or Democrats. I kept things as simple as possible and reported that there was a secret meeting going on that we were able to expose. There was a tremendous amount of stress because of the possible ramifications of the story. I wanted to make sure that I had every ‘I’ dotted and ‘T’ crossed. I visualized going on air for the story like I would before games. I knew once it was on tape, there was no going back. I had to make sure things went exactly as planned. I got hyper focused, just like I used to do on the football field.”
The story did have a significant impact not only on the investigation into Clinton’s email use, but also the 2016 presidential election, in which Hillary Clinton was the Democratic nominee. A Washington Post editorial said the meeting created a “terrible moment for (Hillary Clinton) and the Democrats, and for President Obama and perceptions of the integrity of his administration.”
In testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday, Comey made it clear that the details of the story broken by Sign were a key factor in his decision to make a public announcement on July 5th of last year regarding the Clinton investigation. He indicated that he felt the meeting between Lynch and Clinton had the potential to damage the credibility of the bureau and the investigation.
“In an ultimately conclusive way, that was the thing that capped it for me that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the Justice Department,” Comey told Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) during the hearing.
Sign started with ABC 15 in 2005 and now is an anchor on ABC 15 Mornings. He received an Emmy Award for Breaking News in 2014 for his extended live coverage when two Phoenix police officers were shot during a shootout. He also earned an Edward R. Murrow Award for spot news in 2006.
He summed up this experience by saying, “ABC 15 in Phoenix hired me to do a job, and that’s what I’m doing. Just like I did on the football field. I’ve always said that playing team sports sets you up to do well in life, and this is proof.”