After Bill Clinton Met With Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Republicans And Democrats Disapproved "I think it's ... one of the big stories of this week, of this month, of this year," Donald Trump said of the meeting. A Democratic strategist said it was "foolish to create such optics."

Bipartisan Disapproval Follows Bill Clinton's Meeting With Loretta Lynch

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On Monday, former President Bill Clinton was waiting for his plane to depart Phoenix just as Attorney General Loretta Lynch landed on the same tarmac. Bill Clinton decided to board Lynch's plane for a visit. And now the Justice Department is on the defensive. That's because Lynch is overseeing the investigation of Hillary Clinton's email set up.

NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the impromptu chat with Bill Clinton onboard her government plane was a social call, not an attempt to influence the ongoing FBI investigation of his wife.


LORETTA LYNCH: He did come over and say hello and speak to my husband and myself and talk about his grandchildren and his travels and things like that. And no discussions were held on any cases or anything of that. And he didn't raise anything about that either.

JOHNSON: But even some Democratic allies say the meeting was a bad idea. Here's Senator Chris Coons of Delaware on CNN.


CHRIS COONS: I don't think it sends the right signal. I think she should have steered clear.

JOHNSON: Republican Donald Trump was less measured on the Mike Gallagher radio show.


DONALD TRUMP: You see a thing like this and even in terms of judgment, how bad a judgment is it for him or for her to do this? I mean, who would do this?

JOHNSON: In Congress, Republican leaders like Senator John Cornyn of Texas seized on the meeting to renew their calls for a special prosecutor. The attorney general says career lawyers and agents are driving the case, people who follow the law, not politics. But legal ethics experts say that chat in Phoenix this week did create an appearance of impropriety by Bill Clinton.

Stephen Gillers is a law professor at New York University.

STEPHEN GILLERS: I think it was the height of insensitivity for the former president to approach the attorney general. He put her in a very difficult position. She wasn't really free to say she would not talk to a former president.

JOHNSON: Gillers said the attorney general did what she could to explain the boundaries of the conversation. And he doesn't think she needs to recuse herself from the case. Still, he says...

GILLERS: It feeds the dominant narrative that the Clintons don't follow the usual rules. And that's true even if we assume, as I do, that nothing improper was said. The public will be suspicious.

JOHNSON: In the past, Hillary Clinton has said she's not worried about the FBI investigation. But her campaign hasn't addressed the controversy over her husband's meeting with Lynch. Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington.

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