SNAKES ON A PLANE
Bill’s shady meeting taints probe
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.