Attorney General Loretta Lynch defended her decision Tuesday not to recuse herself from the federal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Lynch appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions on a number of topics, but the hearing primarily focused on the Clinton investigation and Lynch’s decision not to prosecute Clinton.
Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) mentioned Lynch’s professional connection with the Clintons and then asked why she did not recuse herself from the case.
"Why did you not see fit to recuse yourself from the investigation?" Goodlatte asked. "Wouldn’t recusal or appointment of a special prosecutor have removed any appearance of impropriety given your service during Bill Clinton’s presidency?"
"As I’ve said on several occasions before, when the referral came into the Department of Justice, it was received and referred to experienced, dedicated career agents and prosecutors who handle matters of this type every day, with independence, with efficiency, with thoroughness and the matter was handled like any other matter," Lynch said. "It was reviewed through the chain by those independent career agents and prosecutors. And in considering the matter, there was no connection, there was no need for a recusal or an independent prosecutor."
Goodlatte also asked Lynch about her private meeting on her plane with Bill Clinton in Phoenix, Arizona. The meeting took place days before FBI Director James Comey gave his recommendation not to prosecute Clinton, although he gave a searing criticism of Clinton’s handling of classified information.
"Two weeks ago, roughly a year into the FBI’s investigation and a mere week before Director Comey’s announcement, you met privately with your former boss, former President Bill Clinton, on your plane at the Phoenix airport," Goodlatte said. "Why was this meeting, particularly in light of your previous appointment by President Clinton, not grounds for recusing yourself?"
"With respect to my conversation that I had with former President Clinton in Phoenix, it was a conversation that was held on the airplane, on the tarmac," Lynch said. "The former president indicated he wanted to say hello and I agreed to say hello and we had a social conversation."
"Nothing of any relationship to the email investigation was discussed, nor were any specific cases or matters before the Department of Justice discussed," she added.