On Friday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced she will accept the recommendation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding Hillary Clinton and her use of a private email server to conduct official State Department business. The announcement by Lynch is an effort to eliminate the appearance that a political appointee would overrule investigators and follows a heavily-scrutinized secret meeting between AG Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on Monday.
“I will be accepting the recommendations,” AG Lynch said at Aspen Institute in Colorado. “That will include not only the factual findings in this matter, but the next step.”
Republicans said the meeting compromised the integrity of the investigation and called on the attorney general to recuse herself.
“In light of the apparent conflicts of interest, I have called repeatedly on Attorney General Lynch to appoint a special counsel to ensure the investigation is as far from politics as possible,” Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement on Thursday.
When asked about the decision to have the meeting, AG Lynch said “I certainly wouldn’t do it again… The important thing to me is the integrity of the Department of Justice.”
Worth noting, Lynch was only qualified to be appointed U.S. Attorney General due to her qualifications as U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. And how did she get that appointment? Then-President Bill Clinton. Further, there are two tracks in the FBI investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s activities.
As PPD previously reported, the investigation in January was expanded to include potential “public corruption” relating to her activities at the Clinton Foundation during her tenure at the State Department. Essentially, the FBI is looking into whether Mrs. Clinton sold access while serving as secretary of state.
AG Lynch said she doesn’t have a timeframe for a conclusion to the investigation–whether Mrs. Clinton will be indicted or not–because she is not the one conducting the probe. She has repeatedly stated that career investigators are handling the matter. Meanwhile, FBI Director Jim Comey said the Bureau doesn’t have a deadline, despite presidential elections.
Mrs. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, had sought to explain away the criminal investigation as a “security review,” a claim the FBI director himself disputed.
“We’re conducting an investigation. That’s the bureau’s business. That’s what we do here at the FBI,” Director Comey said in May. “I’m not familiar with the term ‘security inquiry’.”
Director Comey, a Republican with a strong reputation for independence and fairness, could put an end to speculation after a year-long probe by recommending to the Department of Justice whether or not to pursue an indictment.
An internal State Department audit conducted by the agency’s Inspector General (IG) found Mrs. Clinton broke federal record-keeping rules regarding her email practices while serving as secretary of state. It also shows the former secretary of state’s top aides at the State Department refused to cooperate with investigators and, as did Mrs. Clinton, failed to comply with the Federal Records Act.
There were roughly two thousand emails found on Mrs. Clinton’s server the FBI has identified as top secret. Two specific emails were deemed top secret classified “at birth,” by the originating agencies, including a satellite image showing the movement of North Korean missiles and a top secret U.S. drone strike. That’s a violation of the federal Espionage Act.
The dispute over whether the two emails were classified at the highest level at birth–which is Mrs. Clinton’s political defense–is a “settled matter.” Further, those with knowledge of the investigation who spoke with PPD were quick to point out that a political defense is not a criminal defense.
The agencies that owned and originated the intelligence–the CIA and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA–reviewed the emails in December to determine how they should be properly stored. The emails were marked “top secret” when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains “top secret” even to this day.
Worth noting, the State Department continues to challenge the intelligence community’s conclusions, though they are aware of the review of all the emails. Unfortunately for Mrs. Clinton, the State Department has no authority to change or challenge the classification because the emails and content in question did not originate at their agency.