Earlier this week, Bill Clinton met privately with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on her plane, which set off a firestorm of controversy, along with commentary about how this torpedoed any chance of having the investigation look like it was free of political interference. It also threw a wet blanket on any attempt to rehabilitate the former first lady’s abysmal numbers on trust and honesty. Bill is in a state of contrition right now (via CNN):
The President’s conversation with the attorney general was unplanned and was entirely social in nature. But recognizing how others could take another view of it, he agrees with the attorney general that he would not do it again,” an aide to Bill Clinton told CNN Saturday.
Hillary Clinton weighed in on the meeting as well Saturday, telling MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, “Obviously, no one wants to see any untoward conclusions drawn, and they said they would not do it again.”
Bill Clinton and Lynch met privately on Monday. Clinton, who had been in the Phoenix area earlier in the day for a fundraiser for his wife’s campaign, according to a campaign source, joined Lynch aboard her plane while both were on the tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Yet, over at the New York Observer, a high-level and credible source told them that the former president had delayed departure from Phoenix in order to ensure a run in with the attorney general:
The source has decades of experience providing security to government officials. The source spoke to the Observer for 20 minutes and answered follow-up questions via text message on the condition that no further details be revealed, including even gender, given the possibility of losing his or her job as an active overseer of security arrangements. This person was on-hand for the entirety of the meeting and some of its aftermath.
According to this source, whose credentials were checked and confirmed by the Observer with sources inside both the FBI and the United States Secret Service, the attorney general was caught completely off guard by the meeting and the source dismisses suggestions that have been raised alleging that she waited there to see Bill Clinton or accommodated his request to see him. In fact, it seems from this source that it was Bill Clinton who was maneuvering for face time with the attorney general, because his plane had been scheduled to leave before hers arrived.
According to the source, the FBI agents protecting Lynch “knew former POTUS was in town and another executive was coming and knew Lynch was coming so we knew there’d be congestion. We were waiting for her plane to touch down at the executive terminal area of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor where it’s best suited to control. Clinton’s plane was on the ground already. But he wasn’t there. We had been hoping to get him out before she arrived, just to avoid too much traffic. They [their planes] were 75 yards apart. We have a procedure we do to clear [space for] a motorcade. As we were ready to receive her, I saw the other motorcade coming in—we were like, ‘great timing.’ ”
The source was being sarcastic in saying “great timing,” indicating that it would have been better logistically for Clinton’s plane to take off before Lynch’s arrived, to avoid the congestion of two motorcades on the tarmac at once. The source indicated that Clinton’s people at the airport didn’t know what was taking Clinton’s motorcade so long to arrive and speculated that the delay was engineered specifically so that Clinton would not have left before Lynch arrived.
According to the source, “Nobody knew this was coming. We just knew to be aware there were other events going on. There was no planned meeting. It was just chance contact. The fact is, he just started walking over. I don’t think it was pre-arranged. He just started walking over and [even her security] can’t tell him, ‘you can’t do that.’ He walked in her plane for at least 20 to 25 minutes and the FBI is standing face to face with the Secret Service and just chatting on the hot tarmac like, ‘what the hell.’ ”
Now, to be fair there are two factors at play here. One is that the source told the Observer that its political stance is one of a conservative, and that this person does not support the current administration. Yet, this person had first-hand knowledge of what happened on the ground. Second, we all know the danger with unnamed sources. The New York Times got screwed over repeatedly in 2015 by using unnamed sources. The same could happen here, though this person did note that Lynch’s staff was “flipping out” during the rendezvous, knowing that political catastrophe awaited them. They were right.
Regardless of the alleged behind-the-scenes tactics deployed by Slick Willy to guarantee bumping into Lynch, the fact that they spoke for 30 minutes on a plane, in private, is damage enough for everyone involved. It may very well have been about golf and family matters, but it doesn’t negate the fact that it was inappropriate under the circumstances surrounding the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use. The headaches over this are bound to be long-lasting.