Not even Barack Obama’s Praetorian Guard media could protect Attorney General Loretta Lynch from the blowback created by her clandestine meeting with Bill Clinton this week, even as the FBI enters the final stages of Hillary Clinton’s criminal investigation.
It’s a mark of just how much pressure Lynch has been under — even from a few seasick partisan Democrats — that she felt obliged to acknowledge the appearance of impropriety, and promise that she would accept the FBI’s recommendations on the Clinton case.
Of course, Lynch is a high official in the Obama Administration, so it was a carefully-parsed, largely symbolic promise.
Democrat spin efforts fell apart when the public realized the meeting between Clinton and Lynch was meant to be a carefully-guarded secret. The American people only learned about it because a local news station, ABC15 in Phoneix, Arizona, was tipped off.
Lynch has been trying to make the meeting sound like an impromptu social gathering between old friends — we’ve learned her husband was present as well — but ABC15 reporter Christopher Sign told Bill O’Reilly of Fox News that FBI agents on the tarmac were “instructing everybody around: no photos, no pictures, no cell phones” while Clinton boarded Lynch’s plane.
There should be a major Congressional investigation of that abuse of power alone, as the United States of America doesn’t suspend the First Amendment at the convenience of political royalty, because they’d like to have a private chat about grandchildren and golf, as Lynch has characterized the meeting.
On Friday, Lynch conceded that her meeting with Bill Clinton — while both his wife, and the “charity” he heads, are the subjects of federal investigation — “cast a shadow” over the Justice Department’s activities, and she “certainly wouldn’t do it again.”
“The recommendations will be reviewed by career supervisors in the Department of Justice and in the FBI, and by the FBI director, and then as is the common process, they present it to me and I fully expect to accept their recommendations,” Lynch said of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, as reported by Politico.
Having secured the desired “Attorney General guarantees politics won’t interfere with the Clinton case” headlines from the mainstream media, Lynch qualified that “promise” immediately: “While I don’t have a role in those findings, in coming up with those findings or making those recommendations as to how to go forward, I will be briefed on it and I will be accepting their recommendations.”
“In terms of timing, I actually don’t know that because again, I don’t have that insight into I would say the nuts and bolts of the investigation at this point in time,” she continued. “They are working on it. They are working on it very hard. They are working on it to make sure they’re as thorough as they can be, that they have covered every angle, that they have looked at every issue. They are doing the work that the people in the Department of Justice do every single day.”
“And I could not be more proud of that work. And I could not be more proud to present that work to the American people when this matter is resolved and we can let people know the conclusion to this investigation,” Lynch declared.
She is, in essence, saying that her promise to accept the FBI recommendation is entirely symbolic. The decisions will be made by people she appointed. Her hands will be clean. As critics were quick to say, she hasn’t formally recused herself or called for a special prosecutor – measures that would be more than merely rhetorical.
“Considering the ongoing criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton, this secret meeting between the Attorney General and Bill Clinton shows an astounding lack of judgment by Loretta Lynch,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said on Thursday. “But at a minimum, Lynch should immediately recuse herself from the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s unlawful activities, and appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case, so the American people can know the truth about this secret meeting and finally rest assured the criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton is being conducted fully and impartially, without even the appearance of corruption.”
As the social-media spelunkers at Twitchy pointed out, Lynch’s promise to accept the FBI’s recommendation was made in an interview with Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, and if you watch video of the interview, neither of them takes the conflict-of-interest issue seriously. Lynch was laughing when she answered Capehart’s jovial “What were you thinking?” question:
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 1, 2016
Nothing about Lynch’s demeanor suggests she accepts that she made a hideous mistake, and needs to do some hard work to restore the integrity of her office. The rhetoric she uses is sound-bite statesmanship that would, if taken seriously, make one wonder how any adult, let alone the Attorney General of the United States, could make a blunder like this. And as the reporter’s testimony from Phoenix makes clear, it was a very carefully orchestrated blunder. The orchestration hasn’t ended yet.