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Saturday, July 02, 2016
Loretta Lynch’s Clinton Mess
The Wall Street Journal Opinion Review &
Attorney General should formally recuse herself from the case, or take
Loretta Lynch did
herself, the Department of Justice and Hillary Clinton no
favors on Friday when she tried to repair the damage she had done by meeting
privately with Bill Clinton this week.
In a televised
interview from Aspen, Colorado, with the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart,
the Attorney General struggled to defend her department’s ability to make an
honest decision about whether to indict Mrs. Clinton over her handling of
classified information on her personal email server. “I fully expect” to accept
the recommendations of FBI investigators and career Justice officials, she
said, in damage-control mode.
Ms. Lynch created
this mess when she welcomed the former President onto her plane in Phoenix for
a 30-minute private meeting—while her department is investigating his spouse. The public might not
even have known about the meeting if someone hadn’t tipped off a reporter. When
first asked about the propriety of the meeting earlier this week, Ms. Lynch
explained it was “primarily” social.
That didn’t satisfy
anyone, and the pressure built. Prosecutors don’t meet privately with the
spouses of people who are under investigation, and even White House spokesman
Josh Earnest admitted that questions about Ms. Lynch’s meeting are “entirely
legitimate.” Ms. Lynch said Friday at Aspen that she understands why her
behavior has “cast a shadow” over the integrity of the Justice Department.
Yet her Clintonian
answers show as much bad judgment as the original meeting. She is now passing
the buck to career officials while still retaining the ability to overrule
them. This is trying to have it both ways. She knows there will be a
political price to pay no matter what the decision. Her ethical straddle allows
her to say she had nothing to do with a decision not to indict while
retaining the authority to overrule an FBI recommendation to indict.
Whether to indict a
presumptive presidential nominee is a momentous decision that deserves to be
made by officials who are accountable to the voters. Such decisions are the
reason we have an Attorney General appointed by an elected President.
Ms. Lynch has only
two honest choices:
Do the job she was appointed to and make the decision—or formally recuse
herself from the case and delegate the decision to the next highest ranking
official at Justice.
Instead she is
offering a political cop-out that will only lengthen the shadow she and the
ever-incorrigible Bill Clinton have cast over the Justice Department.