What Bill Clinton's surprise meeting with Loretta Lynch means

With Hillary Clinton facing Justice Department review over her emails, the tarmac visit carries some risk for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Adrees Latif/Reuters/File
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is accompanied by her daughter Chelsea Clinton (right) and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as she speaks to supporters in Hooksett, New Hampshire, in February.

It was a bad idea for Bill Clinton to travel over to Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s plane for a visit on the Phoenix tarmac on Thursday. Everybody involved seems to realize that now.

Mr. Clinton’s wife is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for possible mishandling of classified information via her private email server. Attorney General Lynch is America’s top law enforcement officer, the person at the top of the Justice bureaucracy that will decide whether or not to charge Hillary Clinton with a crime.

Hmmm. Did they really just talk about grandkids and golf, as Lynch says?

The larger question is whether the ensuing political uproar about this meeting will change anything of substance in the presidential campaign. Our guess is that it probably won’t.

Yes, it likely made Mrs. Clinton’s email problem worse in political terms, as Washington Post pundit Chris Cillizza writes today at The Fix blog. It’s given many voters cause to remember that Clinton’s trustworthiness numbers are pretty low to begin with.

If it’s not one thing with the Clintons, it’s another, goes the weary critical refrain. Do they not see when their actions appear to be conflict of interest, or outright suspicious? In that sense, the Lynch meeting is just one more event in a series that includes Hillary Clinton’s big bucks Wall Street speeches and Bill Clinton’s international fundraising for their foundation.

Six in 10 voters already believe Clinton has handled the email thing poorly, according to Mr. Cillizza.

“This whole mess created by Lynch and Bill Clinton will only make those numbers worse, further exposing Hillary Clinton’s biggest weakness in the eyes of the voters,” he writes.

But Mrs. Clinton has the good fortune to be running against someone whose unfavorable ratings are even worse than hers. Partisan views – and vote preferences – are already pretty entrenched. It’s unlikely this news point in and of itself will have more than a temporary effect on horse race polls.

Far more important in potential effect will be the actual prosecution decision. We’ve written in the past that legal analysts generally think there is little chance Clinton will be indicted. But that’s just speculation. The real world has a way of producing events that confound conventional wisdom. If Clinton is indicted after all, the 2016 race will turn upside down – again.

If she is not indicted, her supporters will profess to be unsurprised. An event they didn’t expect won’t be occurring.

“LOL. Lynch non-story a reminder that many people fooled into thinking theres remotest chance FBI/USAttys will rec any charges agst Clinton,” tweeted out Josh Marshall, editor of left-leaning TPM, on Friday.

Meanwhile, some of her opponents will charge that she’s escaped prosecution due to cover-up. Oh sure, Lynch has now said she’ll defer to the decision of her career prosecutors. But don’t you think they already know what she wants? That’s what critics will say. After all, she met with Bill Clinton in a private tête-à-tête!

The Phoenix meeting “creates a gift-wrapped excuse for Trump to challenge the outcome of the feds’ investigation if, as everyone expects, Hillary ends up not being indicted,” writes Allahpundit at right-leaning Hot Air.

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