The FBI tried covering up a secret meeting between former President Bill Clinton and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch on June 27, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona. The meeting took place just six days before former FBI director James Comey cleared Hillary Clinton of charges in her email scandal.
During testimony in May, Comey said he believed the tarmac meeting undermined the Justice Department’s credibility on the Clinton email case; and Comey also revealed Lynch directed him to describe the investigation into Clinton as a “matter,” wording that aligned with the Clinton campaign’s framing.
Judicial Watch, a conservative, nonpartisan watchdog group, filed freedom of information requests with the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) for records on the meeting. The FBI initially claimed there were no records, but after DOJ documents revealed communications on the meeting with the FBI, the FBI agreed to release the documents.
On Nov. 29, the FBI provided the 29-page report to Judicial Watch, which the watchdog group published on its website the same day.
The documents are mainly emails from after the meeting and reveal that the FBI tried covering up the secret meeting by silencing a whistleblower who had revealed it to the public.
In an email, the FBI cites a July 1, 2016, news article from the Observer, which cites an unnamed “security source” who was allegedly present during the nearly half-hour meeting between Bill Clinton and Lynch as saying that “[Clinton] talked 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?’”
The FBI, in its email, urged what appears to be 22 agents, whose names are redacted, to read the Observer article. The bureau states that the unnamed source in the article may be a Phoenix police officer who helped with the motorcades, and that it had contacted “the Phoenix office” and would contact the locals “who assisted” in what it described as “an attempt to stem any further damage.”
It states incidents like this are why agents’ discretion and judgment are the “foundations” of the “AG’s trust in our team, which is why we can never violate that trust, like the source did in this article.”
The “AG” presumably refers to the former attorney general, Lynch.
The emails revealed the FBI aimed to punish and silence the alleged police officer, first stating, “We need to find that guy and bring him or her before a supervisor and opr,” and also suggested the bureau should require personnel to sign nondisclosure agreements in the future.
The mention of “opr” presumably refers to the Office of Professional Responsibility, which would investigate misconduct by law enforcement.
Another email says that an affiliate in Phoenix said the meeting between Lynch and Clinton lasted for “close to an hour” and that “they seem to think it’s somehow connected to the Benghazi report released today.”
The June 28, 2016, Benghazi report from House Republicans detailed the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. embassy in Libya, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. The incident sparked the investigations into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails.
According to a Judicial Watch release, the Clinton–Lynch tarmac meeting “came just days before former FBI Director James Comey held the July 5, 2016, press conference in which he announced that no charges would be filed against Mrs. Clinton.”
It adds that in his May 3 testimony before the Senate judiciary committee, “Comey said the Lynch–Clinton tarmac meeting was the ‘capper’ among ‘a number of things’ that had caused him to determine that Department of Justice leadership ‘could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the American people’s confidence in the justice system.'”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in the release that the new documents show “the FBI was more concerned about a whistleblower who told the truth about the infamous Clinton–Lynch tarmac meeting than the scandalous meeting itself.”
“The documents show the FBI worked to make sure no more details of the meeting would be revealed to the American people. No wonder the FBI didn’t turn these documents over until Judicial Watch caught the agency red-handed hiding them,” Fitton said. “These new documents confirm the urgent need to reopen the Clinton email scandal and criminally investigate the resulting Obama FBI/DOJ sham investigation.”