No, Loretta Lynch Was Not 'Ambushed' by Bill Clinton

Sifting through the facts slowly emerging from the tattered veil of secrecy surrounding the tarmac meeting between Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton, it is likely that the popular narrative that the Attorney General was ambushed is false. In all likelihood, General Lynch had an important agenda that needed to be communicated immediately to Team Hillary.

Last week I wrote a piece reasonably speculating that Lynch’s meeting with Clinton meant that the FBI would shortly refer charges to Justice, and that Lynch met Clinton to break the bad news and reassure him that nothing would come of it under her watch. Since that article was published new information has come to light, but none that would undermine its central premise. That Hillary Clinton was finally interviewed by FBI agents on Saturday strongly suggests that not only was Lynch’s meeting with Clinton prearranged, but reinforces the idea that their discussion improperly focused on the FBI’s investigation of Hillary.

Coincidences are often the fodder of conspiracy theorists and for good reason should be evaluated carefully. But that doesn’t mean that stunning coincidences are not good evidence. Circumstantial evidence is essentially another name for coincidence, and properly presented is a good as any other kind of evidence and sufficient to decide a case.

The meeting of Clinton’s and Lynch’s planes in a Phoenix airport at the same time of day, far from their own home bases, with both of them following busy schedules is strangely coincidental in and of itself. That we now know the “chance” meeting occurring five days before Clinton was to be interviewed by the FBI (something that both parties to the Phoenix encounter already knew) is one coincidence too many. To believe this encounter happened purely by chance is either to discount logic, or to take a political side.

The mainstream media predictably are doing their best to avoid logical conclusions that hurt their candidate, and so predictably have spun a narrative to explain it. In this telling, the meeting was not only by chance, but forced upon Lynch by Clinton, who left his plane with his security detail and set upon her plane. This account appears to be backed by leaks that suggest Lynch’s FBI escort was surprised and upset by the encounter -- not only because it presents inherent security problems when two groups of heavily armed agents approach each other without a prearranged plan, but because as FBI agents they understood that the encounter at least appeared improper.

In this narrative, the onus is in Clinton, and he has been excoriated in the liberal press for damaging his wife’s campaign and putting Lynch in a compromising position. At worst, what happened in this version is that Clinton tried to schmooze Lynch, while she foolishly but innocently put up with it for at least thirty minutes as they discussed golf, his grandkids and Brexit. Even if Clinton raised his wife’s legal predicament with Lynch, we are supposed to believe that the honorable and honest attorney general brushed him off, and that was that. We are supposed to buy this story because there is no hard evidence for another one, only the fact that the meeting was coincidental, and it would be wrong and unprofessional to impute more to it than that. Plus the agents themselves seemed surprised, so Lynch didn’t tell them ahead of time about it.

But sometimes in the absence of hard evidence (often because the bad guys get rid of it and are not in the mood to confess) all you have is circumstantial evidence. That evidence becomes more probative if the targets of investigation are known to be dishonest and/or willing to eliminate or otherwise hide more direct evidence, like the fact that FBI agents banned cell phones and cameras when they realized reporters were on the scene.

That the FBI agents were surprised is another good example of this. Of course, Lynch did not let her detail know ahead of time. They are investigators, they would have understood it was a breach, and likely someone would have told a superior who would have told the director, and there goes that. So Lynch played it as a coincidence with them too. Some evidently were upset enough to leak anyway after the fact, but in that circumstance the situation remains deniable for Lynch.

Add to this that Bill Clinton is a well-known liar, caught doing so under oath, prosecuted for it, and disbarred. While the same cannot be said for Lynch she presides over the most politically oriented attorney general’s office in modern history, one in which politics has routinely trumped the law. And that fact leads to a clearer picture of just why Lynch and Clinton arranged to meet in Phoenix last week.

I continue to believe that the FBI will refer charges against Hillary Clinton in the email case for at least the failure to preserve federal records and mishandling of classified information. I think this because the evidence of at least her misfeasance, and to only a slightly lesser degree her malfeasance, is so overwhelming that it would be a true travesty of justice and a huge black mark on that agency and its director, were there be any other conclusion.

Lynch knows this, both because she knows the case, and probably the FBI told her so. But as bad as those charges would be for Hillary, they are not fatal, either legally or politically. It would be difficult, but not extraordinarily so (at least by the standards of the Obama administration) for Lynch (or her subordinates at Justice) to say they come to a different conclusion as to Hillary’s criminal culpability with respect to handling the documents, and thus defer actually charging her. Alternatively, it is also conceivable that Hillary even if charged with federal records violations and mishandling classified material could get the General Petraeus treatment plead to a misdemeanor, and still survive to win election. It was a largely political decision by Lynch’s predecessor, Eric Holder, to charge Petraeus only with mishandling classified documents, rejecting the advice of the FBI and career prosecutors to also go forward with charges of making false statements.

Here then is the final piece of the Clinton-Lynch meeting puzzle. Lynch did not want to be put in Holder’s position. It’s one thing for her to help Hillary out on the documents, another if the FBI can bring credible charges of obstruction or making false statements. So Lynch’s meeting with Clinton was not only to deliver news of the investigation’s status, but to warn him -- and so Hillary -- not to trap herself in the forthcoming FBI interview. In other words, for Hillary to go against all instincts and try to tell the truth, or as much of it as possible, lest the FBI catch her out and solidify an obstruction case against her too.

Since news of the meeting has come to light and with it a storm of controversy, Lynch has said she will follow the advice of the FBI and career prosecutors. But this still gives her plenty of wiggle room. It is not a promise to vacate the FBI’s findings should that agency recommend charges, as career prosecutors in her own department may differ. She has not recused herself, and retains the authority to overrule the FBI until she does. Not only that, but even if she recused herself, she’d be replaced by a subordinate political appointee, who would also likely do the Obama administration’s bidding.

Had the meeting in Phoenix never come to light, which was clearly the intention of Lynch and Clinton, the fix with Hillary would have been in. As it stands, Hillary’s fate will depend on whether she escaped the FBI interview in good shape, the integrity of that agency’s director, and the utter indifference of many Americans to her criminal dishonesty. Finally, it will depend on the Obama administration’s tolerance for blatant political intrigues. If the past is any guide, that tolerance is quite high.