Attorney General Loretta Lynch held a private meeting Monday with former President Bill Clinton, whose wife is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and is under a federal investigation into her email use as secretary of state.
However, the attorney clarified that it had been a chance encounter that did not involve mentions of any matter pending before the Justice Department or “any other body.”
Republicans have said it is not appropriate for the Justice Department under a Democratic president to be investigating a Democratic presidential candidate and have even called for an independent prosecutor to take the case.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday that the meeting had taken him by surprise and that he had first thought it was a joke.
The encounter, which KNXV-TV in Phoenix said lasted about half an hour, happened when Lynch had just landed at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix and Clinton, who was waiting to depart, came over to say hello and speak with the attorney and her husband.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) June 30, 2016
The unplanned chat was about grandchildren, travel, the Brexit vote, golf, former Attorney General Janet Reno “and things like that,” said Lynch, as reported by ABC News.
“There was no discussion of any matter pending before the department or any matter pending before any other body. There was no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of the State Department emails, by way of example,” she remarked at a press conference Tuesday, according to Fox News.
At a separate press conference held Wednesday in Los Angeles, she insisted the Monday meeting had nothing to do with the federal probe on Hillary Clinton.
— POLITICO (@politico) June 30, 2016
Clinton supporter and Democratic Delaware Sen. Chris Coons commented Thursday that the meeting under these circumstances “sends the wrong signal”, according to CNN. For his part, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid stood by Lynch’s side by saying her ethics were unquestionable.
“It’s being handled by career investigators and career agents, who always follow facts and the law and do the same thorough and independent examination of this matter that they’ve done in all,” Lynch explained referring to the federal investigation on the former president’s wife, as quoted by ABC News.
The investigation is in its final stages
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) June 30, 2016
The FBI is conducting an investigation to find out whether Hillary Clinton mishandled sensitive information that she had access as she used personal and government correspondence while serving as secretary of state. Lynch will have the final say when the FBI makes a recommendation to the Justice Department saying whether Clinton or any of her aides should face charges.
Last July, the inspectors general for the State Department and intelligence community referred the matter for investigation after it was discovered that a series of emails reportedly included classified information.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 29, 2016
The agency has not interviewed the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, but the conclusion of the yearlong federal probe into the email server will apparently reach a conclusion soon as the FBI is in the final stages of the probe. Clinton has argued that she made a mistake by relying on a private server for official correspondence but that she has not been the only secretary of state that has used personal email addresses.
Source: ABC News