Obama's Attorney General Meets With Bill Clinton Amid Hillary Clinton Email Scandal It was a passing encounter on her government plane, but the whiff of impropriety while the Justice Department investigates Hillary Clinton's private email server could set Republicans howling.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Bill Clinton Met Amid Email Investigation

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So it may have just been a friendly hello at the airport. Whatever it was could cause some political problems for Hillary Clinton. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton had this unscheduled chat, and let's chat about it with NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson, who's on the line. Hey, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So what exactly happened here?

JOHNSON: So this happened Monday on the tarmac of the airport in Phoenix. The attorney general says her plane was landing for a community policing event there. And Bill Clinton, apparently, was waiting to take off. He came by just to say hi.

GREENE: All right, so what's wrong with that?

JOHNSON: Well, there's a big appearance problem, David. The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating Hillary Clinton for using a private email server to conduct official business when she was secretary of state. That server was located in the Clinton family home.

GREENE: But the attorney general's being pretty clear that the investigation, Hillary Clinton's emails - none of this came up in this conversation, right?

JOHNSON: Yeah, Loretta Lynch insists this was purely a social call. She and Bill Clinton apparently talked about his grandchildren, his golf game. She says nothing about email, nothing about Benghazi came up. And she says independent FBI agents and prosecutors are handling this email investigation, and they are following the facts and the law, not politics.

GREENE: OK, so this really - it could - even if this was just a casual conversation, it could really play into an argument that Republicans in Congress have have been making - I mean, trying to raise alarms about whether Loretta Lynch's Justice Department can really be impartial in these investigations.

JOHNSON: Absolutely. And word of this meeting is surely going to breathe new life into calls by people in Congress, like Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, for a special prosecutor to take over here, arguing that the Justice Department can't investigate the presumptive Democratic nominee for the president. The timing here could not be worse for Hillary Clinton, of course. The Democratic National Convention is next month. Clinton says she has nothing to worry about from this investigation. But surely this meeting - this impromptu meeting between her husband and the attorney general in Phoenix earlier this week is going to raise a new set of questions that she's going to have to answer on the campaign trail.

GREENE: And in terms of a timetable for these investigations from the Justice Department, we don't know much at all. Is that - is that right?

JOHNSON: No, both the attorney general and the FBI director, James Comey, have said they want this investigation to be done promptly, but they also want it to be done thoroughly. Both of them, even though they say they're operating aside from politics, understand the political calendar here, David. There's a very sensitive investigation going on involving the Democratic presumptive nominee for the White House. And they want to wrap this up as soon as they can.

GREENE: OK. We've been talking to NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Carrie, thanks, as always.

JOHNSON: You're welcome.

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