SNAKES ON A PLANE

Bill’s shady meet­ing taints probe

New York Post - - FRONT PAGE - Charles Gas­parino Charles Gas­parino is a Fox Busi­ness se­nior cor­re­spon­dent.

Bill Clin­ton’s se­cret, half-hour meet­ing with At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch had ev­ery­one call­ing foul—with crit­ics sus­pect­ing that the f ix is al­ready in for Hil­lary Clin­ton, even be­fore she is in­ter­viewed by the FBI.

IT’S com­mon knowl­edge in lawen­force­ment cir­cles that, while FBI staffers be­lieve Hil­lary Clin­ton should face some charges over her han­dling of clas­si­fied gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion through her pri­vate e-mail server, po­lit­i­cal types at the Jus­tice Depart­ment would (for ob­vi­ous po­lit­i­cal rea­sons) love to quash any talk of an in­dict­ment.

But thanks to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch, the quash­ing of the case against the for­mer sec­re­tary of state just got more dif­fi­cult, le­gal of­fi­cials tell me — no mat­ter how an in­dict­ment might de­rail Clin­ton’s plans to be­come the next pres­i­dent of the United States.

At is­sue, of course, is the rev­e­la­tion that Lynch, the coun­try’s chief pros­e­cu­tor, had the au­dac­ity to have a pri­vate meet­ing with ex-Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton — the spouse of the tar­get of the e-mail in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Yes, Lynch went to great lengths to say the meet­ing was in­no­cent, just a chat about their grand­kids and golf. And on Fri­day, she said she’ll ac­cept the rec­om­men­da­tion of ca­reer Jus­tice staffers — not the po­lit­i­cal types who want Hil­lary to win what they view as a third Obama term in the White House.

But that doesn’t even be­gin to ad­dress either the pol­i­tics or the le­gal pro­pri­ety of what just went down, law-en­force­ment sources tell me.

In­deed, be­cause this friendly “chat” looks so bad, and her meet­ing may, in fact, amount to wit­ness tam­per­ing, Lynch may now be in a box, th­ese sources tell me: She may have no choice but to ac­cept what some have termed a very pos­si­ble FBI rec­om­men­da­tion to charge the for­mer first lady with a crime over mis­han­dling clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

First, Bill Clin­ton may not be an in- no­cent by­stander: He hasn’t been charged in the e-mail probe nor is it clear he’s di­rectly un­der scru­tiny, but as I’ve re­ported in The Post, FBI staffers are prob­ing not just his wife’s use of a pri­vate server for top-se­cret in­for­ma­tion, but also pos­si­ble shenani­gans in­volv­ing the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, the non­profit she runs with her hus­band.

One av­enue of pos­si­ble in­quiry: whether the sec­re­tary of state may have stepped over the le­gal line by com­min­gling her of­fi­cial State Depart­ment busi­ness with her role at the char­ity.

Al­ready, there have been some in­ter­est­ing con­nec­tions be­tween for­eign govern­ments, busi­nesses and some in­di­vid­u­als look­ing for pref­er­en­tial treat­ment from Hil­lary’s State Depart­ment and else­where in the ad­min­is­tra­tion, with some of those en­ti­ties giv­ing do­na­tions to the foun­da­tion — which doled out a few bucks to char­ity but also lined the pock­ets of the Clin­tons and their friends.

In other words, that friendly chat be­tween Lynch and Bill Clin­ton could also be con­strued as wit­ness tam­per­ing, law-en­force­ment types tell me.

Then there’s the pol­i­tics of the mat­ter. The rift be­tween the FBI and the po­lit­i­cal hacks at Jus­tice over the e-mail scan­dal was real and deep; I’m told it was the main rea­son the e-mail in­quiry has dragged on for so long, with some spec­u­lat­ing that the fi­nal rec­om­men­da­tion might come

af­ter the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. In fact, many law-en­force­ment sources I speak to say FBI chief James Comey has al­ready sig­naled to Lynch pri­vately that his staff be­lieves Clin­ton stepped over the line with her use of the pri­vate server for gov­ern­ment busi­ness, and has got­ten push­back from the DOJ.

But the tim­ing of any an­nounce­ment has likely got­ten a lot faster, law-en­force­ment sources say.

Comey’s hand has been strength­ened im­mensely in bring­ing a case be­fore the elec­tion, be­cause, as one a for­mer pros­e­cu­tor puts it, “If Comey’s rec­om­men­da­tion to bring a case is re­jected, he will re­sign as a hero. It will look like pol­i­tics pure and sim­ple, which is why that meet­ing was so stupid.”

Of course, Comey may de­cide that Clin­ton’s wrong­do­ing isn’t as bad as what got for­mer CIA chief David Pe­traeus in hot wa­ter. But many FBI of­fi­cials be­lieve he’s more likely to fol­low the lead of his men, and rec­om­mend charges against Hil­lary — and the po­lit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions will, of course, be yu­u­uge.

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