STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The attorney general, Loretta Lynch, says she is stepping away from a case involving Hillary Clinton's emails. She says she will defer to the judgment of career prosecutors and FBI agents. They can do whatever they want to do in the investigation. The announcement follows an uproar over a chat the attorney general had with former President Bill Clinton the other day.
NPR's Carrie Johnson our justice correspondent is covering the story, and, Carrie, the phrase that's coming to mind is recusing herself. Is she recusing herself from this case?
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Steve, this is not a formal legal recusal under that definition. She may still review the conclusions, but it's unlikely she's going to alter them in any way whatsoever. So to call this a recusal is not quite right. She is however - more or less said she's going to defer to whatever the independent career lawyers are going to do here.
INSKEEP: So she'll pass on this, but she's saying in advance she's going to follow what the professionals tell her to do. How if at all is this related to this much debated meeting, informal meeting she had with Bill Clinton?
JOHNSON: People at the Justice Department are saying something like this was under consideration for some time. Steve, it's quite clear to me that bipartisan on rest this week in Washington over her chance meeting with President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac on Monday definitely played a huge role in this decision.
Lynch, of course, says that was a social chat. They talked about golf and grandkids. Nothing about any investigations came up, but boy, oh, boy, Republicans and Democrats alike united yesterday in disapproval over that meeting.
INSKEEP: So, Carrie, when might this investigation be over? After all, Hillary Clinton's about to accept the Democratic nomination and stand for election in November.
JOHNSON: Steve, we don't know for sure. By some measures, it's already late and overdue. Of course, Hillary Clinton's preparing to accept her party's nomination in just two or three weeks, and I think the Justice Department would like to have something done by then. They say they need to be both speedy and right. That's the challenge here.
INSKEEP: I suppose another challenge is that anything that they come up with is going to be interpreted through a political lens. People are going to see politics in it.
JOHNSON: That's exactly right. Even with the attorney general's announcement today that she's removing herself more or less from the process, it's hard to imagine the result won't be politicized in some fashion by people outside DOJ and the FBI.
INSKEEP: Carrie, thanks very much.
JOHNSON: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: That's NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson.
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