Imagine your wife is a presidential candidate. Imagine her campaign has been dogged by an endless investigation into her handling of State Department communications. Imagine all signs suggest she is on the cusp of being exonerated — and her political enemies are preparing to paint that exoneration as the product of illicit backroom scheming.
Would you meet privately with the attorney general overseeing that investigation, so as to discuss your grandchildren and recent golf outings?
If you’re Bill Clinton, you would. Or so says Loretta Lynch.
On Monday, the former president was waiting for a flight at an airport in Phoenix. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s government plane had just landed at that same airport. And so Clinton decided to hop aboard and say hi.
Lynch later told reporters that their ensuing conversation was “primarily social” and touched on “his grandchildren, “golf,” and “our travels.”
“There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body,” Lynch added.
Republicans immediately demanded Lynch recuse herself from the investigation, arguing that the meeting constituted an “appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Democrats rejected that suggestion but agreed that the meeting was bad optics.
“I do agree with you that it doesn’t send the right signal,” Delaware senator Chris Coons told CNN Thursday. “She has generally shown excellent judgment and strong leadership of the department, and I’m convinced that she’s an independent attorney general. But I do think that this meeting sends the wrong signal and I don’t think it sends the right signal.”
Former Obama adviser David Axelrod expressed this view more concisely.