NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST MAUREEN DOWD IN COMMENTING ON FORMER BILL CLINTON’S UNINVITED HALF HOUR MEETING WITH U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL LORETTA LYNCH IN HER PRIVATE PLANE ON THE TARMAC IN PHOENIX, WROTE, “HOW COULD A GUY WITH THE GOLD-PLATED POLITICAL INSTINCTS NOT SEE THE PROBLEM WITH TROOPING ACROSS THE TARMAC TO SURPRISE LORETTA LYNCH WITH A VISIT?”
Washington Post reporter Dan Balz wrote,” Bill Clinton has made a mess. It was either out of foolish indifference or plain foolishness, but it has created a terrible moment for his wife and the Democrats, and for President Obama and perceptions of the integrity of his administration.”
I have done a lot of study on the 42 president of the United States, including Bill Clinton, who incidentally appointed Lynch to be a U.S. Attorney in 1999. I believe Dowd and Balz would agree no politician since Franklin Delano Roosevelt is more calculating in the political ramifications of what he says or does.
So why would he be so foolish this time? I believe former President Clinton, with the approval of his wife Hillary Clinton, pre-planned ambushing the Attorney General in Phoenix. An attorney as bright as Bill Clinton, who is used to parsing his words on what the definition of “is” is, knew exactly what he was doing.
Unfortunately Attorney General Lynch, who is not as sharp as the Clintons, did not have the good sense to instruct FBI agents protecting her on the tarmac to refuse access to her by the former president. As Glenn Harlan Reynolds wrote in USA Today, “…no reasonable attorney general meets secretly with the husband of someone under investigation by the FBI, but that’s what happened. Loretta Lynch has gotten a lot of flak for this from across the political spectrum, and with good reason. It’s not just that the “optics” are bad, to use a favorite Washington phrase. It’s that the actuality is bad.”
Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton
Lynch has since said, ”I certainly wouldn’t do it again. Because I think it has cast a shadow over what it should not—over what it will not touch. The most important thing for me as the attorney general is the integrity of this Department of Justice. And the fact that the meeting that I had is now casting a shadow over how people are going to view that work is something I take deeply, and seriously, and painfully.”
Lynch then said, perhaps to her discredit, that she would accept the decision by the FBI on whether to go before a Grand Jury and seek an indictment against Hillary Clinton on the misuse of her private server(s) during her four-year stint as Secretary of State.
I would assume that Lynch already knew the FBI had decided not to seek an indictment. Why? Because President Obama already had agreed to campaign with Hillary in North Carolina five days later. Obama would not have agreed to do that and open himself up to great embarrassment if he had concern that Hillary was facing an indictment.
If Obama knew, I am certain Lynch knew and, I assume, Bill Clinton also knew there was not to be an indictment.
So why did Bill Clinton walk across the tarmac and force Lynch to meet with him? Because he wanted a guarantee that Lynch would not go forward with an indictment despite the recommendation of the FBI. If you take the time to read the 15-minute explanation by FBI Director James Comey why he was not recommending an indictment, he presented at least six reasons why an indictment might be justified.
Bill Clinton not only check-mated Lynch from over ruling the FBI recommendation but he gave political cover to her.
The final turn of the political screw came when Hillary suggested that she might retain Lynch as Attorney General in her administration if Hillary became President of the United States.
Bill Clinton is many things, but foolish not.
Stanford Erickson is a 35 year member of the National Press Club. His website is http://www.StanfordErickson.com.