Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she regrets speaking with former President Bill Clinton in a now-infamous, impromptu tarmac meeting in Arizona earlier this year.
Lynch held the meeting with Clinton right before the Department of Justice concluded its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
“I do regret sitting down and having a conversation with him because it did give people concern,” Lynch told CNN on its “State of the Union” show Sunday. “My greatest concern has always been making sure that people understand that the Department of Justice works in a way that is independent and looks at everybody equally.”
The two met for about 30 minutes at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on June 27, which triggered concern and speculation from Republican officials, who urged her to recuse herself in the investigation.
According to the New York Observer, the publication owned by Donald Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner, a security source said Clinton delayed his plane’s takeoff to get a meeting with Lynch.
The official source told the Observer: “Then I see Clinton walking over. His detail guys ran over to hers and said he’s coming. ‘He’s closing.’ He walked straight there to the Air Force guy at the door and next thing I know he’s going up the steps [of her plane].” In mid-July, the New York Post, citing an official source, reported that “FBI agents believe there was an inside deal put in place after the Loretta Lynch/Bill Clinton tarmac meeting.” In the Observer report, the source described Lynch as someone with “a good reputation.”
Lynch, however, said Sunday that meeting was “primarily social” in nature. “It was painful for me, and so I felt it was important to clarify it as quickly and as clearly and as cleanly as possible,” Lynch said.
On July 5, FBI Director James Comey announced the end of the investigation into Clinton’s server.
“I wish I had seen around that corner and not had that discussion with the former president, as innocuous as it was, because it did give people concern,” Lynch told CNN. “It did make people wonder, ‘Is it going to affect the investigation that’s going on?’ And that’s not something that was an unreasonable question for anyone to ask.”
Lynch also refuted Clinton chairman John Podesta’s new claims that the FBI didn’t do enough to curb alleged Russian hacking of Democrats.
“I can tell you that this investigation was taken seriously from the beginning,” Lynch told the network. “This is an incredibly serious issue.”