Bill Clinton, Loretta Lynch meet privately before release of final Benghazi report

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Why Bill Clinton's Meeting With AG Lynch Was a Bad Move

Former President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately at an airport in Phoenix on Monday, even as the Department of Justice continues its formal probe into the email practices Hillary Clinton used as secretary of state.

The meeting took place aboard a private plane parked at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport, just hours before congressional Republicans released the final report detailing their lengthy investigation into the 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.

That investigation uncovered the existence of the private email server Hillary Clinton, now the presumptive Democratic nominee, used while at the State Department, and sparked the ongoing federal investigation by the FBI.

See photos of Loretta Lynch:

25 PHOTOS
Loretta Lynch - attorney general
See Gallery
Loretta Lynch - attorney general
Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney general, speaks during a keynote session at the RSA Conference 2016 in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Lynch challenged Apple Inc.'s refusal to comply with a judge's order that it help unlock a dead terrorist's iPhone, bluntly questioning the company's insistence that it has the right to refuse to cooperate. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attorney General Loretta Lynch arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, to testify before the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing on gun control. Lynch defended President Barack Obama's executive actions curbing guns, telling lawmakers that the president took lawful, common-sense steps to stem firearms violence that kills and injures tens of thousands of Americans yearly. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
Attorney General Loretta Lynch testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016,before the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing on the Justice Department's fiscal 2017 budget request. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Loretta Lynch smiles before being sworn in as the 83rd Attorney General of the U.S. at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, April 27, 2015. Lynch was confirmed by the Senate on April 23 as the first black woman to become U.S. attorney general after a five-month wait marked by partisan fights and Republican arguments that she won't be independent enough from President Barack Obama. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Loretta Lynch shakes hands with Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (L) after being sworn in as Attorney General during an event at the Justice Department April 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. Lynch is the 83rd Attorney General and is replacing Eric Holder. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US Vice-President Joe Biden delivers remarks prior to swearing-in Loretta E. Lynch as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States April 27, 2015 at the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: US Vice President Joe Biden (L) swears in Loretta Lynch (R) as Attorney General as her husband Stephen Hargrove (2R) and father Lorenzo Lynch (2L) stand nearby during an event at the Justice Department April 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. Lynch is the 83rd Attorney General and is replacing Eric Holder. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Loretta Lynch speaks after being sworn in as Attorney General as a portrait of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy hangs on the wall neaby at the Justice Department April 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. Lynch is the 83rd attorney general and is replacing Eric Holder. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch appears for her confirmation hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee'€™s hearing on her nomination. If confirmed, Lynch would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September after leading the Justice Department for six years. The 55-year-old federal prosecutor would be the nation'€™s first black female attorney general. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, looks back at Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch after introducing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, prior to her testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee'€™s hearing on her nomination. If confirmed, Lynch would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September after leading the Justice Department for six years. The 55-year-old federal prosecutor would be the nation’s first black female attorney general. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, left, talks with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, after Gillibrand introduced Lynch to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Lynch was to testify at a hearing on her nomination. If confirmed, Lynch would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September after leading the Justice Department for six years. The 55-year-old federal prosecutor would be the nation'€™s first black female attorney general. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch testifies during her confirmation hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, speaks at a press conference to announce a 20-count indictment against U.S. Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY, 11th District) on April 28, 2014 in New York City. Grimm's indictments include wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiring to defraud the United States, impeding the Internal Revenue Service, hiring and employing unauthorized aliens, and health care fraud. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Loretta Lynch listens during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Loretta Lynch, a prosecutor with the US Attorney Eastern District of New York, has been nominated to serve as US Attorney General. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Committee chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (L) and ranking member Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) talk while Loretta Lynch speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Loretta Lynch, a prosecutor with the US Attorney Eastern District of New York, has been nominated to serve as US Attorney General. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch leaves her for a break during her confirmation hearing before Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the full Senate Ms. Lynch will succeed Eric Holder as the next U.S. Attorney General. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Loretta Lynch listens to questions during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Loretta Lynch, a prosecutor with the US Attorney Eastern District of New York, has been nominated to serve as US Attorney General. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, left, shakes hands with chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, right, as ranking member Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., look on during her confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: Lorenzo Lynch (2nd L), father of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch (L), raises his hand as he is being introduced during a confirmation hearing before Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Lynch will succeed Eric Holder to be the next U.S. Attorney General if confirmed by the Senate. Stephen Hargrove, husband of Loretta Lynch is on the right. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch reaches for the Navy SEAL trident pin of her brother -- a former SEAL who died in 2009 -- during a break in her testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee'€™s hearing on her nomination. If confirmed, Lynch would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September after leading the Justice Department for six years. The 55-year-old federal prosecutor would be the nation's first black female attorney general. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29: Character witnesses for Loretta Lynch raise their right hands as they are sworn in during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing January 29, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the full Senate Ms. Lynch will succeed Eric Holder as the next U.S. Attorney General. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on her nomination. Lynch defended President Barack Obama's decision to shelter millions of immigrants from deportation though they live in the country illegally but she said they have no right to citizenship under the law. If confirmed, Lynch would become the nation's first black female attorney general. It is the first confirmation proceeding since Republicans took control of the Senate this month. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the full Senate Ms. Lynch will succeed Eric Holder as the next U.S. Attorney General. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Both Lynch and aides for Bill Clinton described the meeting as mostly social, denying that the half-hour conversation at any point strayed to the legal questions that have hung over Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

"I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as I was leaving, and he spoke to myself and my husband on the plane," Lynch told reporters, according to ABC15. "Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primarily social and about our travels. He mentioned the golf he played in Phoenix, and he mentioned travels he'd had in West Virginia."

"There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body," Lynch continued. "There was no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of the State Department emails, by way of example."

When asked if the meeting could throw into doubt her objectivity in handling the email investigation, or would affect the decision on whether to indict Hillary Clinton, Lynch said the work was being handled not by political appointees but by professional staff.

"My agency is involved in a matter looking at State Department policies and issues. It's being handled by career investigators and career agents," she said. "It will always follow the facts and the law and do the same independent and thorough investigation that they've done in all."

An aide to the former president said they "caught up after they realized they were both sitting on the same tarmac," adding that he "always" extends the courtesy of meeting with cabinet secretaries, members of Congress and other dignitaries whenever he crosses paths with them.

The aide pointed to an unplanned encounter with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas when he was still seeking the Republican presidential nomination. The two "exchanged pleasantries" when they happened to both be at Mobile Regional Airport in Alabama, in February, the same day Cruz called for Hillary Clinton to be put in jail.

But the habitual nature of Bill Clinton's meeting with Lynch Monday did little to offset the appearance of impropriety under the circumstances, highlighting his wife's greatest weaknesses as a candidate: her perceived corruptness and lack of honesty.

Voters give Clinton her lowest marks by far when asked about her trustworthiness, compared to her other characteristics.

In a Fox News poll released Thursday, just 30 percent of voters said Clinton could be described as honest and trustworthy, a figure that has steadily fallen from about split when she launched her campaign last year.

Campaigning earlier this week at the Rainbow Push Coalition, Clinton acknowledged the lack of trust as an area where she has "work to do."

"A lot of people tell pollsters they don't trust me. Now I don't like hearing that and I have thought a lot about what is behind it." she said. "It certainly is true, I have made mistakes. I don't know anyone who hasn't."


Read Full Story

People are Reading