Loretta Lynch on the Hot Seat

Judiciary Committee to question attorney general's meeting with Bill Clinton

 Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Judging from her prepared statement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch will arrive on Capitol Hill Tuesday ready to testify about criminal justice reform and the Justice Department's efforts to train local law enforcement.  

But Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have other ideas.  

They are promising to grill her about her decision to accept the FBI’s recommendation not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information on private email servers while serving as secretary of state.  

Another hot topic will be Lynch's private meeting on an Arizona tarmac with former president Bill Clinton days before FBI Director James B. Comey announced he would not recommend criminal charges in the email case.  

“It’s up to her to answer with something other than a half an hour of talking about grandchildren,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said on Fox News Monday, referring to one of the topics Lynch said she and Bill Clinton discussed.  

Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., has also promised to bring up recent mass shootings in Orlando and San Bernardino, technological advances and what he called the Justice Department's “politicization” of the New Orleans Police Department.  

Democrats on the committee have their own ideas on what Lynch should discuss.  

"Gun violence, voting rights, national security, and the relationship between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve, just to name a few," Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.  

“I hope we can have a substantive debate," Conyers said. "We certainly need one. Focusing the conversation on Secretary Clinton’s email is a gesture that will do little to help our constituents. It is a matter that the Department of Justice and the FBI have already closed.”  

But Republicans consider it far from over.  

“No one is above the law and the American people need to know that federal law enforcement is taking this misconduct seriously,” Goodlatte said in a statement announcing Tuesday's hearing.  

Goodlatte and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, asked the U.S. attorney for D.C. Monday to launch a probe into Clinton’s testimony under oath before a congressional committee, a little-known legal tool Congress has to nail people for perjury.  

[ Republicans Press to Keep Clinton Investigation Going ]  

Tuesday’s hearing, just two weeks before the start of the Democratic National Convention, will be another opportunity for Republicans to pounce on Clinton. The former secretary of state, senator and first lady is expected to be named the presidential nominee.  

Last week, House Republicans on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee railed against the FBI's decision and outlined contradictions between the FBI’s findings and testimony Clinton gave in October.  

Goodlatte called Lynch’s meeting with the former president while his wife was under investigation “uniquely troubling.”  

Aides to Bill Clinton said the former president spontaneously decided to go say hello after realizing the two were in private planes sitting on the same tarmac.  

“No discussions were held on any cases or anything of that,” Lynch said , “and he didn’t raise anything about that either.”  

[ Meeting with Bill Clinton Won't Affect Hillary's Email Case, Lynch Says ]  

But Republicans — and even some Democrats — squirmed at the notion, even if it was unplanned. Former Democratic adviser to President Barack Obama, David Axelrod called it “foolish to create such optics.”  

Lynch doesn't mention Bill or Hillary Clinton in in her opening remarks, released Monday. Instead, she condemns the deaths of five police officers during a protest in Dallas along with the killings of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana last week..  

The attorney general vows to continue to offer funds, training and technical assistance to state and local law enforcement that provides body cameras, de-escalation training and education in implicit bias. She also urges Congress to enact sentencing reform , saying spending on overcrowded prisons crowds out spending on other public safety investments.  

She emphasizes the department’s effort to rebuild trust between law enforcement and communities but also highlights the attack in Orlando, which was inspired by foreign violent extremist groups.  

“Terror knows no borders,” according to Lynch’s prepared statement. “In the face of violent extremism, we must stand with our global partners in unity, readiness, and resolve.”  

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter

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