Dem Senator: Lynch meeting "sends the wrong signal"

Republicans aren’t alone in expressing concern over Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s 30-minute social call with the spouse of a figure at the center of a major FBI criminal probe. Democrats have begin questioning Lynch’s judgment, even if the context of their concern focuses more on optics than substance. Appearing on CNN’s New Day, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) tells Alysin Camerota that the meeting between Lynch and Bill Clinton “sends the wrong signal” while the Department of Justice waits for potential criminal referrals from the probe of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server:

“I do agree with you that it doesn’t send the right signal,”  Coons said. “I am impressed with Attorney General Loretta Lynch … I’m convinced that she is 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. I think she should have steered clear, even of a brief, casual, social meeting with the former president.”

“She should have said no, thank you, I’m not available to meet right now,’” Camerota s aid.

“I think she should have said, look, I recognize you have a long record of leadership on fighting crime, but this is not the time for us to have that conversation,” Coons said.

Let’s not forget an important point about this probe. For years, the private server was located in and run from Hillary Clinton’s private residence — the one she shares with Bill Clinton. He’s not just the spouse of a person at the center of an FBI probe, he’s potentially a material witness. A prosecutor certainly has the right (and perhaps even the responsibility) to meet with potential witnesses before making a decision on whether to take a case to court, but to meet socially with a potential material witness related to a potential defendant on the cusp of making that decision calls Lynch’s integrity into serious question — or at the very least, her judgment.

David Axelrod also wondered what Lynch was thinking:

Axelrod may take Bill at his word, but let’s also not forget that Bill got convicted of perjury, too. He hasn’t exactly built a record of honesty in his public or legal careers. Lynch might not have that kind of track record, but it’s very curious that she suddenly felt the need to “primarily” socialize with Bill at this particular point in her life.

Perhaps they didn’t talk about the probe. But what if Bill was sounding Lynch out on a potential role in a Hillary Clinton administration — say, staying on as AG or perhaps a seat on the Supreme Court? No one would have to “touch on [the] probe” explicitly in that kind of conversation, but the meaning would be crystal clear to all sides about what it would mean for the investigation.

The independent counsel law may have plenty of problems, but it’s clear that it’s the only real solution for making a determination on this investigation. We are way past optics at this point.

Addendum: My friend and colleague Katie Pavlich offers a further point on the inappropriate nature of this meeting: