Bill and Loretta’s Excellent Adventure on the Tarmac
Bill and Loretta’s Excellent Adventure on the Tarmac
Do you ever wonder what really happened when Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch met on that tarmac in 2016? Of course you do — everyone does. As you recall, then-candidate Hillary Clinton was about to be interviewed by the FBI about those mishandled emails. Loretta Lynch was the Attorney General at the time, and would be the prime person to make things go away. And lo and behold, Bill Clinton just happened to meet Lynch on a tarmac in Phoenix. They supposedly talked about grandchildren, golf, and various light topics.
No one with any knowledge of how the Clintons operate believed that for a minute. But what if — what if — that’s exactly what happened?
That’s because Bill Clinton didn’t need to make an offer to Loretta Lynch that she couldn’t refuse. He didn’t need to cut a deal, because his very presence and behavior were enough to sway her to defer to the FBI’s — and Jim Comey’s — decision on whether to prosecute Hillary Clinton.
Kind of Godfatheresque, you might say.
Now to be sure, after the 2016 election, Loretta Lynch did tell CNN’s Jake Tapper that she probably shouldn’t have had that “innocuous” meeting with Bill Clinton. After all, it did go on a bit too long, because, as she and Tapper put it, “he’s a talker.”
“He’s a talker,” indeed. And that’s all it took.
Writer Eric Felten at Real Clear Investigations recently obtained a copy of Lynch’s closed-door testimony from December, 2018, to members of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Her account is not of an easy-going, hail-fellow-well-met encounter between herself and the former president. Instead, the meeting was forced and awkward.
After Lynch’s plane landed at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, she prepared to deplane in the usual manner — security first, and then staff, whereupon Lynch and her husband would leave to immediately enter a waiting car. But before she and her husband could leave the plane, the head of Lynch’s security approached her:
“Ma’am, I’ve been informed … that former President Clinton is also at the airfield and would like to say hello.”
Lynch testified to the committees that her security man had barely finished announcing Clinton when there he was, “standing in the doorway of the plane.” Clinton proceeded to schmooze with the entire flight crew for several minutes. When he finally returned to Lynch and her husband, Lynch congratulated Clinton on his new grandchild. That set off a three-way conversation on children and grandchildren between Lynch, her husband, and Bill Clinton. This exchange lasted for “maybe eight or nine minutes, a little under 10 minutes.”
But that wasn’t all. Lynch related this to the House Committee members:
“Well, he asked what brought me to Phoenix. He asked how my travels were, and I mentioned looking forward to seeing the police department.”
“. . .also asked had I been traveling a lot. I mentioned that I had just gotten back from China but had cut that trip short to come back and go down to Florida because of the Pulse Nightclub shooting.”
They also discussed former Attorney General Janet Reno and her failing health. “And that was probably the extent, the largest part of my conversation with him,” said Lynch.
Sounds harmless, right? Lynch said she then tried to make a gracious exit, but that’s when things got really weird. Because Bill Clinton just wouldn’t shut up. So Lynch told Clinton once again:
“Well, you know, thank you very much. It’s been nice seeing you. You know, we have to move on.”
But Bill Clinton — the man who possesses superb social skills, the man who would make a car salesman look like a rank amateur — still didn’t get the hint.
“He continued chatting. He continued talking.”
Did Bill Clinton say anything about Hillary’s campaign? Nope.
“He said he had been playing golf.”
Playing golf? Not according to Christopher Sign, the Phoenix TV anchor who broke the tarmac story. At that time it was 110° degrees in Phoenix. Plus, Sign told Real Clear Investigations:
“To this day I have never found a single person who claims or corroborates any story that Bill Clinton played golf on this particular trip. I feel strongly the former president did not play golf on this visit.”
And then Bill Clinton started to talk about. . . West Virginia. He also had a great story to tell about West Virginia coal miners. Then he moved on to Brexit.
Finally, a staff member came to Loretta Lynch’s rescue:
“And at one point a staffer of mine came on the plane to get me. And at that point the president was — Mr. Clinton was then talking about Brexit.”
Was Loretta Lynch telling the truth to the House Committee members? We’ll never know for sure, but she did give her testimony under penalty of perjury.
However, Bill Clinton’s very presence and demeanor told Lynch all she needed to know: leave Hillary alone. If Clinton had demanded that Lynch let Hillary off, he would’ve risked an obstruction charge. Instead, his actions and presence were a threat. He pushed his way onto her plane without permission from security, and monopolized her flight crew. He then prevented her from leaving in a timely manner. His presence was enough to bully her into complying with his — and Hillary’s — wishes.
In other words, he was Bill Clinton, and he could do whatever he wanted. Just like in the Godfather films. And Loretta Lynch didn’t want to find her career and legacy sleeping with the fishes.