What was she supposed to say when he approached the plane? “This is highly inappropriate, Mr President, and will badly damage your credibility and mine”?

She could have said that, come to think of it.

A Democrat who was briefed on the meeting told me that it was more than a hundred degrees outside and Lynch, who was immediately uncomfortable with the visit, felt that she couldn’t shoo the sixty-nine-year-old former President, who has had heart problems in the past, back onto the tarmac. Lynch, according to this person, also insisted that her security detail remain at her side while Clinton was onboard her aircraft so that the ex-President and the Attorney General would not be alone together. (A spokesperson for the Attorney General declined to comment.)

So Lynch was immediately aware of the appearance of impropriety yet allowed the meeting to proceed. Fancy that. Ken Kurson of the New York Observer (which is owned by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner) hears that her staff was immediately aware of it too. How could they not be? Everyone in America with more than an eighth-grade education grasps the problem of an AG huddling privately with a former president while federal charges may or may not be looming against his presidential-candidate wife. Except, I guess, Bill Clinton.

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…

“I don’t agree with her politics and all that, but I knew from the beginning that she got caught off guard and her staff was already talking about it that it’s going to be a political problem for her. Her staff was flipping out. We didn’t think about the political part until we saw her staff flipping out. For the security guys, it was more of a ‘I’ve got armed guys coming into my perimeter’ problem. But the staff guys saw right away that it was a political problem. After Clinton got off, they were like, ‘that wasn’t good.’ And I know from others who were in the actual car with her that her people knew immediately the political ramifications of it and were very upset.”

Kurson’s source believes Lynch really was “caught off guard” but isn’t so sure that Clinton’s decision to approach her was a momentary lapse of judgment. As it turns out, his motorcade was late in arriving at the airport, coincidentally allowing him to be on the tarmac at the same time Lynch was. Was he deliberately late, delaying his arrival because he knew Lynch’s plane would be there and wanted to facilitate a “spontaneous” meeting? No one has a strong theory for why Bill, who is many things but certainly no dummy, would have thought this was a good idea. Kathleen Parker actually resorted today to speculating that he was trying to sabotage Hillary, whether consciously or otherwise, as a possible explanation for his inexplicable move. One interesting hypothesis I’ve seen is Steven Hayward’s, who wonders if Clinton wanted to compromise Lynch because he knew it would increase the pressure on James Comey and the FBI not to recommend charges. If Comey says “charge her” and Lynch declines to, Hillary would walk but would be badly wounded politically. Republicans would howl that the FBI thinks she’s guilty and Trump would cite Lynch’s decision as ultimate proof that the system is indeed rigged. What the Clintons really need is for the FBI, not the political appointee Lynch, to clear Hillary. With Lynch now vowing publicly to do whatever the FBI recommends (sort of), Comey’s alone in the spotlight.

But there’s a flaw in that theory. Namely, Comey could recommend indictment. If you’re Bill Clinton, wouldn’t you rather not have Lynch compromised so that she’s available to overrule Comey if need be? Hillary would, as I say, be badly wounded if Lynch lets her walk over the advice of the FBI, but an actual indictment would be political death. Lynch is the Clintons’ last layer of prophylaxis against that. Or was.

Don’t miss the forest for the trees in all of this, though. Bill Clinton schmoozing with Lynch amid a pending federal investigation of Hillary is bad, but it isn’t remotely the worst appearance of impropriety related to Emailgate. That distinction belongs to Mr Good Government, Barack Obama:

Think of this: The president has endorsed and is actively campaigning for Clinton at a time when his Justice Department is still in the process of deciding whether she should be prosecuted. Although that has drawn little comment, it shocks some who have been in senior positions in previous governments and who believe that no White House can be truly indifferent or disinterested in such an important case.

Imagine being an FBI agent reviewing the evidence against Hillary and looking up from your desk to the TV to find O, your boss’s boss’s boss, side by side at a political rally with the person you’re trying to decide whether to charge. That’s not a hypothetical: It’s exactly the situation the FBI will find itself in three days from now. If Obama were a Republican, the media would be rending its garments in grief at such a brazen attempt by the president to influence a criminal investigation into his party’s nominee. It’s an even more malignant example of the attitude that drove the Clinton/Lynch meeting, that because everyone assumes and has always assumed that Hillary will walk due to her political influence, there’s no point in keeping up pretenses that the investigation’s outcome is in doubt. There’s no sense sweating over an appearance of impropriety when there is impropriety and everyone knows it, right? That’s the state of Hopenchange circa 2016.

Here’s Bill Maher wondering why Loretta Lynch couldn’t have told Clinton, “Yeah, no thanks.”