WASHINGTON — Democrats suffered heartburn thanks to Bill Clinton Thursday, when they were forced to defend a private meeting between the former president and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, whose Justice Department is investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email system.
The would-be First Laddie sat down with Lynch on a plane during an apparently chance encounter when they were both at an airport in Phoenix on Monday.
Lynch later told reporters the discussion was primarily about Clinton’s grandchildren and golf.
“There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body,” she said, according to several reports.
Republicans have called for an independent prosecutor to look into Clinton’s email use. The FBI is investigating whether the then-secretary of state’s personal home-based email server could have exposed classified material, and whether any laws were broken.
The meeting also came a day before the Select Committee on Benghazi released its long-awaited report on the 2012 attacks in Libya that killed four Americans, finding no new blame be leveled against Hillary Clinton.
But it’s the same committee that first revealed Clinton conducted her State Department business on an email server located in her New York home.
Clinton’s Republican rival for the White House, Donald Trump, was quick to slam the meeting as terrible judgement, and evidence of the “rigged system.”
“It is an amazing thing,” Trump said Thursday when he was asked about the meeting in a radio interview on the “Mike Gallagher Show”. “That’s terrible. And it was really a sneak. It was really something that they didn’t want publicized as I understand it.”
“Wow, I just think it’s so terrible, I think it’s so horrible,” he added.
At least one Democrat, Sen. Chris Coons (Del.), said the meeting looked bad, telling CNN Lynch should have begged off. “I think she 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,'” Coons said Thursday, although he said he believed Lynch would remain objective.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered a more full-throated defense of Hillary Clinton and Lynch.
“Loretta Lynch is one of the most outstanding human beings I’ve ever known. Her ethics is above reproach. No one could ever question her strong feelings about the rule of law,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill.
“She’s an honorable person. She has said that nothing was discussed related to the investigation,” Schumer said. “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.”
Pressed on whether the meeting played into a GOP portrayal of the Clintons as people who think they can play by their own special rules, Reid shot back that the entire discussion about Clinton and Benghazi was whipped up by Republicans and their biggest donors.
“Let me tell you about special rules. Hillary Clinton has put her soul out working on the campaign trail for more than a year now, in spite of the fact that the Koch brothers have spent $30 million trying to make something out of Benghazi, which even Republicans in a report said amounted to nothing,” Reid said. “The email thing is also something drummed up by people who have been trying to denigrate her for years now.”
Reid also took the opportunity to contrast Clinton with Trump.
“She takes questions from press, not afraid to answer questions,” Reid said, although Clinton has not spoken much to the press in this campaign. “And look at the other side. You’ve got this Donald Trump. So we’re satisfied with our candidate. I think she’s pretty damned good.”
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