Pressure on Lynch to step aside in Clinton email probe–47gh.,b43
Loretta Lynch is on the edge of the spotlight, about to be dragged to the center. If the FBI finds sufficient evidence to launch a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton or one of her top aides for mishandling classified information, Lynch’s Justice Department will have to decide whether to press ahead.Even if no evidence of wrongdoing is found, Clinton’s many critics are unlikely to take the word of an appointee of President Obama’s and will doubt that justice has been served.
Already, top Republicans are calling for a special prosecutor to be brought in and evaluate the situation.
Lynch ought to consider a special counsel, a representative said, to reassure the country that decisions are made “without regard to any political considerations.”
The Justice Department, however, has so far declined the request.“This matter is being reviewed by career attorneys and investigators and does not meet the criteria for the appointment of a special prosecutor,” department spokeswoman Melanie Newman said in a statement.Federal officials are currently investigating the security of Clinton’s bespoke email arrangement and whether classified information may have been mishandled.
Critics of Clinton have called for indictments to be handed down following revelations that more than 1,500 classified emails — including 22 classified at the highest level — were found on her personal server. None of the messages were marked as classified, and accounts differ as to whether they should have been classified at the time they were sent.
“I think the American people will know it’s an absurdity, and I have absolutely no concerns about it whatsoever,” said Clinton.
Lynch’s critics are unconvinced that the attorney general can be a neutral arbiter.
“I think they probably won’t indict her, because the attorney general is from New York, who I believe is a friend of Hillary Clinton,” Donald Trump, a leading Republican presidential candidate, said on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” in October.Skeptics of Lynch have also pointed to an October interview in which President Obama appeared to dismiss concerns about Clinton’s private server.“I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered,” Obama said on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”“It might appear that he’s trying to influence the conduct of the investigation,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor this week. “That’s a real problem.”
Lynch was appointed to be the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 1999 by President Bill Clinton, Hillary’s husband.However, she was personally recommended for the position by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and one government official said Clinton himself had a relatively minor role in the selection process. For a period of months, she also worked as the district’s top prosecutor while Hillary Clinton was serving as the junior senator from New York, until Lynch left for private practice in 2001.
Lynch would return to become the U.S. attorney in 2010, before she was tapped to be the nation’s top law enforcement official last year.
“She is a very, very cautious person and doesn’t operate that way.” Lingering in the background is the prospect that Lynch’s decision may affect her own future.
Lynch was confirmed by the Senate last year after a five-month delay largely unrelated to her own qualifications. That left the nation’s top lawyer with just a year and a half in office, during Obama’s lame duck period in which policy efforts are likely to stall.
If Clinton becomes the next president, however, Lynch may be asked to stay on, at least for a short time. As such, she may have a little bit of skin in the game.
“That Hillary Clinton could be the Democrat nominee and potential next president represents an extraordinary circumstance that commends the appointment of a special counsel,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), the head of the House Oversight subcommittee on national security, in a statement to The Hill. “For a Democrat-appointed attorney general such as Lynch, this is obviously something that distinguishes the Clinton investigation from other cases.”
Special prosecutor: So far, the Justice Department has declined congressional requests to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the Clinton issue.
“Any investigation related to this referral [into Clinton’s server] will be conducted by law enforcement professionals and career attorneys in accordance with established department policies and procedures designed to ensure the integrity of all ongoing investigations,” Kadzik wrote.
The FBI has refused to share details about its investigation. So far, however, the bureau does not appear to be conducting a criminal probe, and officials have said it is not directly targeting Clinton.
Multiple lawyers watching the case have suggested that Clinton’s top aides may be in more trouble than she is.
As one former senior Justice Department official noted, there are many options for the government to take apart from either nothing or an indictment against Clinton.
“It could play out with people agreeing to plead to … a misdemeanor charge, people agreeing to leave office or withdraw in return for a pardon,” the former official said.
“I think ultimately, one of those events is going to happen,” the former official added.
“It’s not going to be forgotten about.”
source–the hill, julian hattem, melaine newman, steven edwards, hogan lovells, dennis tracey,