The fallout from Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s private, off-the-record meeting with ex-President Bill Clinton in an airplane at the Phoenix airport is expanding, with Washington watchdog Judicial Watch now asking the Department of Justice inspector general to investigate.
“Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton severely undermined the already low public confidence in her agency’s criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “In addition to this IG investigation, Judicial Watch has already sent Freedom of Information Act requests about this scandalous meeting.”
Judicial Watch has been a key player in the continuing pressure on authorities to investigate Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information through a private email server while she was secretary of state.
It was a Judicial Watch case seeking government records that exposed Clinton’s homebrew email system. Judicial Watch is now taking depositions from Clinton’s aides.
A federal judge has left open the possibility that Hillary Clinton may end up being deposed in the case.
The new complaint about Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton cites “18 USC §§ 202 – 209; Executive Order 12674 on Principles of Ethical Conduct as amended by EO 12731; Uniform Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 CFR Part 2635; Department of Justice regulations, 5 CFR Part 3801; Department of Justice regulations, 28 CFR Part 45; Executive branch standards of conduct, 5 USC § 735; and, United States Department of Justice Ethics Handbook for On and Off-Duty Conduct, 14 Principles for Ethical Conduct.”
The law says employees “shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part.”
“Whether particular circumstances create an appearance that the law or these standards have been violated shall be determined from the perspective of a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts.”
And federal employees are instructed “to avoid any actions creating the appearance that the employee is violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part.”
The complaint elaborates:
Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with former President William J. Clinton on board a parked private plane on the west side of Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona on June 29, 2016, according to multiple press reports.
“President Clinton is the spouse of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State, who is purportedly the subject of a national security crime investigation pertaining to the mishandling of national defense information processed by Mrs. Clinton’s personal server during her tenure as secretary.
Additionally, there are press reports that a federal public corruption investigation is on-going concerning conflicts of interest and abuse of official government office involving the financial “commitments” to the Clinton Foundation, speaking fees for President Clinton and former Secretary Clinton’s official acts. President Clinton may be a target of that investigation.
Attorney General Lynch’s meeting with President Clinton creates the appearance of a violation of law, ethical standards and good judgment. Attorney General Lynch’s decision to breach the well-defined ethical standards of the Department of Justice and the American legal profession is an outrageous abuse of the public’s trust. Her conduct and statements undermine confidence in her ability to objectively investigate and prosecute possible violations of law associated with President Clinton and Secretary Clinton. This incident undermines the public’s faith in the fair administration of justice. Simply stated, Attorney General Lynch’s June 29, 2016 meeting with former President Clinton creates the broad public impression that “the fix is in.”
The New York Times on Friday reported on Lynch’s attempt to defuse the controversy by saying she will “accept” the recommendations of “career prosecutors” in the Clinton case.
“Her decision removes the possibility that a political appointee will overrule investigators in the case,” the report claimed.
WND reported on the meeting Monday in Phoenix.
Lynch said the meeting “was a great deal about grandchildren, it was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix.”
She claimed the meeting, about 30 minutes long, did not include any discussion about issues pending before the Department of Justice.
The revelations about the meeting triggered a groundswell of demands that Lynch recuse herself from any decision in the case.
She subsequently declined to remove herself from the case, instead releasing a Justice Department comment that she will accept the career prosecutors’ recommendation.
Lynch’s denial that she and Bill Clinton discussed the investigation did not satisfy others, either.
“In light of the apparent conflicts of interest, I have called repeatedly on Attorney General Lynch to appoint a special counsel to ensure the investigation is as far from politics as possible,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
And Michael Cutler at Front Page Magazine offered a simple solution to all the questions of propriety that are being raised.
“The stakes could not be higher – yet Loretta Lynch acted in a way that she should have clearly understood created that illusion of wrong-doing. … It is impossible to understand her motivation or what she was thinking as she sat on her airplane meeting with Bill Clinton – but one thing is now perfectly clear, she must recuse herself from any involvement in the decision making process where the investigation/prosecution of Hillary Clinton is concerned,” he wrote.
Former DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams, at PJ Media, also sounded off.
“Whenever Bill Clinton gets on a plane to meet a woman, he’s usually up to no good,” he wrote. “Attorney General Loretta Lynch said her impromptu tarmac summit at Phoenix Sky Harbor was a purely social affair. Golf and grandchildren were on the agenda, she said – and not how a home-brew server crammed with classified information ended up in Bill’s basement.
“However, the attorney general normally doesn’t meet with family members of a target in an active FBI criminal investigation. Hillary is just that – a target in an FBI criminal investigation.”
He continued: “Many won’t believe Lynch and Clinton only discussed grandkids and golf in her cozy jet. But I do. That’s all they needed to discuss for Bill to interfere with a criminal prosecution. Sophisticated insiders don’t need to use clumsy and explicit language. Merely having the tarmac summit interferes with the investigation, even if golf and grandkids were the only topics discussed. The tarmac summit sent a signal. It is a signal to all of the hardworking FBI agents who have the goods on Hillary.
“The attorney general has made it clear what team she is on. The attorney general isn’t on the side of justice. She’s on the Democratic Party team. This is the unspoken message from Lynch to all of the FBI agents on the case and to all the front-line lawyers at the Justice Department: When you send your recommendation to refer Hillary’s case to the grand jury, you had better realize your burden to convince me I should sign off on a grand jury request is higher than you thought. These are my friends.”