Bill Clinton, Loretta Lynch Criticized Over Private Airport Tarmac Meeting

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton met privately on Clinton's plane at a Phoenix airport on Monday. Lynch said the meeting was social in nature, but comes as the FBI is investigating Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state. File photos by Drew Angerer and Archie Carpenter/UPI

PHOENIX, June 30 (UPI) — U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was criticized Thursday for a private meeting with former President Bill Clinton on a plane at a Phoenix airport when the two met in passing Monday evening.

The encounter, reported by the ABC affiliate in Phoenix, happened as Clinton’s plane was about to leave Sky Harbor Airport, when he realized Lynch’s plane was on the same tarmac. ABC15 reported Clinton delayed his departure in order to see Lynch, who was in Phoenix to promote the Justice Department’s community policing program.

Lynch said the visit, which lasted about 30 minutes, was social in nature, though the timing had some Republicans questioning whether any talk included information about the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

Lynch was asked about her meeting with Clinton, and said the two talked about their grandchildren and, in passing, about the news of the day, but said there was no conversation about the email investigation.

“I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as he was leaving and spoke to myself and my husband on the plane,” Lynch said. “Our conversation was a great deal about grandchildren, it was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix.”

The meeting came hours before a report was issued by a House committee investigating the attack that killed U.S. Libyan Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, which happened while Clinton was secretary of state.

“There was no discussion on any matter pending before the [Department of Justice] or any matter pending with any other body, there was no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of State Department emails. By way of example I would say it was current news of the day, the Brexit decision and what it would mean,” Lynch said.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told a conservative radio host the meeting was “a sneak.”

“It was really a sneak,” Trump told conservative talk show host Mike Gallagher. “You see a thing like this and, even in terms of judgment, how bad of judgment is it for him or for her to do this? Who would do this?”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, questioned whether the meeting was a “conflict of interest,” noting on Twitter Lynch cannot represent two individuals and said she “must avoid even the appearance of a conflict.”

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told CNN he believes the meeting was above board, but that it gave the wrong appearance.

“I think [Lynch] should have said, ‘Look, I recognize you have a long record of leadership on fighting crime but this is not the time for us to have that conversation. After the election is over, I’d welcome your advice,'” Coons said.

Other Democrats defended the meeting, praising Lynch’s ethics on the job.

“She’s an honorable person. We know that,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “She has said nothing was discussed related to the investigation so you have two choices: To say this didn’t matter or she’s lying. I think it didn’t matter. I don’t think she’s lying.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid also praised Lynch for “her strong feelings about the rule of law and her ethics.”


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