Lynch will accept FBI recommendations on Clinton emails

Loretta Lynch under fire after meeting with Bill Clinton
Loretta Lynch under fire after meeting with Bill Clinton

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Friday she will accept recommendations from an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email use while at the State Department but will not recuse herself after holding a heavily criticized private meeting with former President Bill Clinton.

The FBI is investigating the private server Hillary Clinton used while Secretary of State and whether Clinton or her aides broke any laws in their handling of classified information.

Lynch and Bill Clinton met in Arizona Monday when they discovered they were both at the airport. The attorney general insisted their discussion was "social" in nature and that they did not talk about the emails or any other official matters.

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"Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primary social and about our travels. He mentioned the golf he played in Phoenix, and he mentioned travels he'd had West Virginia. We talked about former Attorney General Janet Reno, for example, whom we both know," said Lynch. "But there was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body," she added.

But the meeting between the attorney general and the husband of a potential target of investigation under her purview drew criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike in the midst of a presidential election that features Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

David Axelrod, a former chief strategist to President Obama, wrote on Twitter that he believes Lynch and Clinton didn't discuss the probe but that it was still "foolish to create such optics."

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware echoed that sentiment on CNN's "New Day," saying "I don't think it sends the right signal. I think she should have steered clear even of a brief, casual social meeting with the former president." He noted the attorney general typically uses "excellent judgment."

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Sen. John Cornyn of Texas tweeted on Thursday, "An attorney cannot represent two parties in a dispute and must avoid even the appearance of conflict." And presumed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump skewered the meeting, telling radio host Mike Gallagher, "I think it's so terrible. I think it's so horrible" and that it was proof the system is "rigged."

Majority Whip Steve Scalise went as far as to argue Lynch should recuse herself from the Clinton investigation and hire a special prosecutor. The Louisiana lawmaker said in a statement so "the American people can know the truth about this secret meeting and finally rest assured the criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton is being conducted fully and impartially, without even the appearance of corruption."

The White House downplayed the criticism. Spokesman Josh Earnest was grilled by reporters on Thursday about the meeting. "Both the president and the attorney general understand how important is it for the Justice Department to conduct investigations that are free of political interference," he said, adding that it has been a "bedrock principle since our country's founding."