Attorney General Loretta Lynch expressed regret Friday for meeting earlier this week with Bill Clinton, adding that it had “cast a shadow” on the Hillary Clinton email probe.
Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, Lynch was asked about her unusual meeting with the former president aboard an aeroplane parked on an Arizona tarmac.
“Friends, supporters, backers are saying, ‘What on earth was she thinking talking to Bill Clinton?’ So, what on earth were you thinking?” the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart asked, during an onstage interview.
“I think that’s a perfectly reasonable question,” Lynch said, noting that many have wondered whether she can objectively oversee the investigation into the presumptive Democratic nominee’s emails.
She added: “Certainly my meeting with him raises questions and concerns. Believe me, I completely get that question.”
Lynch said that she believes the real question is her “role in how the matter is going to be resolved.”
The attorney general said the case was being handled by career FBI investigators who would make recommendations that will ultimately be reviewed by the FBI director and career supervisors in the Department of Justice.
“I fully expect to accept their recommendations,” Lynch said, confirming news reports from earlier that she intended to stay out of the investigation.
Lynch insisted that her meeting with the former president was “social” and that the two discussed his grandchildren and golf, not the probe into his wife’s use of a private email server.
Nevertheless, she said it had “cast a shadow” on the FBI’s investigation and expressed regret allowing the meeting to take place.
“I certainly wouldn’t do it again,” she said.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump used the meeting to attack Hillary Clinton, tweeting early Friday that she “probably” orchestrated the meeting out of fear she would be indicted over her email conduct.
Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have also criticised Lynch for the meeting, contending the optics alone eroded the public’s trust.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest faced a number of questions on the topic from reporters on Thursday. He deferred mostly to Lynch but said President Barack Obama had confidence she would not allow politics to contaminate the investigation.
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