DOJ redacts talking points paper from Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting

The infamous meeting on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport between former president Bill Clinton and then-attorney general Loretta Lynch has been the subject of speculation since it became public during the 2016 campaign.

Judicial Watch made several Freedom of Information Act requests for documents related to the meeting.  As usual, DoJ dragged its heels, forcing J.W. to sue.

Yesterday, DoJ released a memo containing talking points from the meeting but redacted much of its content.

Washington Examiner:

The Justice Department released a redacted version of talking points it created about last year's tarmac meeting between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton, and claimed that the information could be withheld because of the government's "deliberative process" privilege.

The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain numerous documents related to the meeting, and eventually had to sue the Department of Justice to obtain the documents, which included the redacted talking points.

"It is jaw-dropping that the Trump administration is blacking out key information about how the Obama Justice Department tried to spin Loretta Lynch's scandalous meeting with Bill Clinton," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a press release. "President Trump should order the full and immediate release of these materials."

The tarmac meeting became a major campaign issue in 2016, and was reignited thanks to recent testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.

In his June testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said Lynch had asked him to refer to matters about Hillary Clinton's email server as a "matter" instead of an "investigation."

"That language tracked the way that the campaign was talking about the FBI's work, and that's concerning," Comey said under questioning. "I don't know whether it was intentional or not, but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way a political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate. We had a criminal investigation open, and so that gave me a queasy feeling."

At the very least, the fiction that the meeting did not discuss the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails appears to have been exposed.  Even if the only thing the two principals talked about was baking cookies and grandchildren, Lynch should have been fired immediately.  But this was the Obama White House, where such transgressions were routine and tolerated by the president.

The 417 pages of documents obtained by J.W. from the FOIA suit do not contain any smoking guns.  But it's clear that the Justice Department saw the meeting as a lot more than a "casual meeting" between a former president and a serving attorney general.  They developed a P.R. strategy to deal with the fallout from the meeting and asked a career DoJ official close to John Podesta to oversee it.

Somewhere in those archives are unredacted communications that would tell us exactly what the two principals discussed.  Judicial Watch is calling on the Trump administration to release all documents related to the meeting.  With the bureaucracy stonewalling J.W., it would be a good idea for the president himself to order the release.

The infamous meeting on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport between former president Bill Clinton and then-attorney general Loretta Lynch has been the subject of speculation since it became public during the 2016 campaign.

Judicial Watch made several Freedom of Information Act requests for documents related to the meeting.  As usual, DoJ dragged its heels, forcing J.W. to sue.

Yesterday, DoJ released a memo containing talking points from the meeting but redacted much of its content.

Washington Examiner:

The Justice Department released a redacted version of talking points it created about last year's tarmac meeting between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton, and claimed that the information could be withheld because of the government's "deliberative process" privilege.

The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain numerous documents related to the meeting, and eventually had to sue the Department of Justice to obtain the documents, which included the redacted talking points.

"It is jaw-dropping that the Trump administration is blacking out key information about how the Obama Justice Department tried to spin Loretta Lynch's scandalous meeting with Bill Clinton," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a press release. "President Trump should order the full and immediate release of these materials."

The tarmac meeting became a major campaign issue in 2016, and was reignited thanks to recent testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.

In his June testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said Lynch had asked him to refer to matters about Hillary Clinton's email server as a "matter" instead of an "investigation."

"That language tracked the way that the campaign was talking about the FBI's work, and that's concerning," Comey said under questioning. "I don't know whether it was intentional or not, but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way a political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate. We had a criminal investigation open, and so that gave me a queasy feeling."

At the very least, the fiction that the meeting did not discuss the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails appears to have been exposed.  Even if the only thing the two principals talked about was baking cookies and grandchildren, Lynch should have been fired immediately.  But this was the Obama White House, where such transgressions were routine and tolerated by the president.

The 417 pages of documents obtained by J.W. from the FOIA suit do not contain any smoking guns.  But it's clear that the Justice Department saw the meeting as a lot more than a "casual meeting" between a former president and a serving attorney general.  They developed a P.R. strategy to deal with the fallout from the meeting and asked a career DoJ official close to John Podesta to oversee it.

Somewhere in those archives are unredacted communications that would tell us exactly what the two principals discussed.  Judicial Watch is calling on the Trump administration to release all documents related to the meeting.  With the bureaucracy stonewalling J.W., it would be a good idea for the president himself to order the release.

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