Attorney General Loretta Lynch confirmed Friday that she will accept the recommendations of FBI Director James Comey and other Justice Department investigators when deciding if charges should be filed against Hillary Clinton over with her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Lynch's decision comes amid a firestorm of criticism prompted by her meeting in private with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's husband, former President Bill Clinton, aboard her plane at a Phoenix airport.
"I fully expect to accept these recommendations," Lynch said in an interview with NBC reporter Jonathan Capehart at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado.
"I don't have a role in these findings," she explained, adding that she would be briefed on the process and would review the findings.
She also said he realizes now that the meeting with the former president was a mistake, and finds it painful that the issue is overshadowing the work the Justice Department does.
"It is an issue on how this impacts our work, and I certainly wouldn't do it again," said Lynch, who was appointed as a U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 1999 by Clinton.
But, she said that the conversation she had with Clinton aboard her plane was entirely personal and she insisted they did not talk about Hillary Clinton's case.
"Basically, he said hello, and it led to a conversation about his grandchildren," Lynch told Capehart, and that they and her husband talked about the former president's travels and what he was doing in Phoenix.
"It really was a social meeting," said Lynch. "He spoke to me, and my husband."
The meeting though, did "cast a shadow" over the Justice Department, the investigation into Clinton's emails, and more, Lynch admitted.
She said it is important to her how the American public views the DoJ and the work it does for citizens. Further, she said it's important to talk about the impact the meeting could have on the Clinton case.
"The most important thing to me is the integrity of the Department of Justice," Lynch said, noting that the aftermath of her meeting is something she does feel "painfully," as people do have reason to question her meeting with Clinton.
But she urged Americans to look at the matters the DOJ works on daily, and the "victims we help everyday," and she is saddened that the work they do is "overshadowed" by her meeting with the former president.
Lynch said she does not have a timeline yet about when she'll receive recommendations from FBI Director James Comey and other key investigators in the Clinton case, as "they're working on it very hard to make it as thorough" as possible.
The decision means that there is no possibility of a political appointee overruling the case's investigators, The New York Times
reports. Lynch's move is something that has been under discussion since April, but the controversy over her meeting with Bill Clinton forced her hand on the announcement.
Republican critics say the meeting, which took place on Lynch's government-supplied plane, compromised her investigation and have called for her to recuse herself from the case, which has the FBI investigating if the former secretary broke the law by using the private email
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the meeting was improper, and as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he called Thursday on Lynch to appoint special counsel in the case to keep the investigation removed from politics during the presidential election.
Democrats also have criticized
Lynch's plan to follow the recommendation of her investigators is significant, reports the Times, noting that when the FBI sought to bring felony charges against former CIA Director David Petraeus, Lynch's predecessor, Eric Holder, reduced the charges of mishandling classified information and then lying about his actions to a misdemeanor.
The FBI has not yet interviewed Clinton, and is expected to make its recommendation to the Justice Department in upcoming weeks about whether she should be indicted.
Clinton's likely November rival, Donald Trump on Thursday called the Lynch-Clinton meeting a "sneak" encounter
But Lynch wouldn't be the first Attorney General to depend on investigators for recommendations, as Holder also relied on his senior prosecutor to recommend whether former Bush administration lawyers who approved waterboarding should be punished, and no sanctions ended up being recommended.
The controversy continued Thursday, including later in the evening when the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch requested that the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General investigate the meeting.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday said Lynch was forthcoming about the meeting and said he would not second-guess her, as "she certainly understands that investigations should be conducted free of political interference and consistent with the facts."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.