Did security set up secret Clinton, Lynch tarmac meeting?
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBMA) It has been two years (almost to the day) since former Attorney General Lorretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton met secretly on a Phoenix tarmac.
Two years later, new documents reveal discrepancies in what the two said they talked about on board Lynch’s private plane.
The documents also confirm previous reports that orders were made that no photos be taken.
Furthermore, the documents generate new questions involving a mystery person with Clinton.
New statements show the meeting may have been planned along with new questions as to who may have overheard the meeting along with what appears to be a testy exchange when a Lynch staffer attempted to get on the plane to break up the meeting but was stopped from doing so.
It was a typical hot June day in Phoenix in 2016 when former President Bill Clinton stepped onto Lynch’s private plane.
Security from several agencies gathered in a secure portion on the west side of Sky Harbor International Airport.
Clinton had wrapped up a fundraiser and roundtable discussion in Phoenix and was set to fly out when sources say he delayed his take off to meet with privately with Lynch.
Fast forward two years and the release of the Office of the Inspector General report regarding various actions by the FBI and Department of Justice before the 2016 election.
Deep in the heart of the more than 500-page report, new testimony generates new questions and provides some answers.
Clinton and Lynch have maintained the meeting was not planned. However, the IG’s report may suggest otherwise. Or at least that not all parties were aware.
On page 203 of the report, “The OPA (Office of Public Affairs) Supervisor said that he later learned that former President Clinton’s Secret Service detail had contacted Lynch’s FBI security detail to let them know that the former President wanted to meet with Lynch.” Lynch’s staff members maintain in the report they had no knowledge of the request and were surprised by the former President’s visit.
As I’ve stated in previous reports, sources tell me the confidential meeting between Lynch, her husband and Clinton lasted 30-minutes.
Lynch has maintained the meeting was purely social. The former Attorney General has said publicly that she and Clinton talked about the day’s news, Brexit, grandkids, West Virginia coal and golf.
In the IG’s report, Lynch mentioned the same topics, including golf.
“He mentioned that he had been there for several meetings, he had played golf. I made a reference to the heat, because it was still incredibly hot while we landed, which was why we were still on the plane,” Lynch stated in the report.
Two years later and I have not found a person who can confirm that former President Clinton played golf during that trip to Phoenix.
The discrepancies regarding what was discussed continues in the report involving the tarmac meeting.
Lynch said they talked about Brexit and West Virginia, but according to the IG report, Clinton’s topics didn’t totally match those mentioned by Lynch.
“He said he did not recall Brexit coming up, but acknowledged that he probably did discuss it,” as noted on page 205 of the report.
Furthermore, according to the report:
“Former President Clinton also said that he did not recall mentioning West Virginia coal policy to Lynch, but that he would not be shocked if he had done so because he thought a lot about it, and he frequently talked about the issue.”
As the meeting on board the private plane unfolded at least one FBI agent remained on board, but the Inspector General report notes that “it’s unlikely the head of security detail would have been a position to hear the conversation.”
As I previously reported, those nearby were ordered to not take any photos.
Detailed in the report, as Lynch’s closest staffers were waiting in nearby vehicles, a staffer ordered a photographer to no take photographs.
On page 209 of the report it states:
“The OPA Supervisor said that there was a photographer outside, and he recalled telling the photographer that Lynch would not be taking pictures. The OPA Supervisor said that he remembered telling the photographer that he (the photographer) needed to go back in his car.”
In the IG’s report, it’s clear some of Lynch’s staff members were uncomfortable with the meeting including a Senior Counselor who was apparently met with resistance from federal agents to break up the meeting.
As noted on page 210 of the report:
“The Senior Counselor said that when she tried to go back on the plane, she was stopped by the head of Lynch’s security detail, who was at the door of the plane. The Senior Counselor said that she told him that Lynch’s meeting with former President Clinton was not a good idea, and that she needed to get back on the plane, but he still would not let her on. The Senior Counselor said that she then asked him to convey to Lynch that she was advising that the meeting was a bad idea. According to the Senior Counselor, he told her, “All right, why don’t you tell her yourself,” and finally allowed her to board. “
The move essentially ended the private meeting, but the way the meeting started may lead to renewed questions as well.
According to the IG report, former President Clinton was not alone as he approached Lynch’s plane shortly after it touched down in Phoenix.
On page 203 of the report, as Clinton approached the stairs of the plane, someone was with him, but not allowed to join the conversation.
“The Senior Counselor told the OIG that she was waiting in the van with the three other Department employees on the trip, and she saw two people walking toward Lynch’s plane. She said that as the two people went up the stairs to the plane, she realized that one of them was former President Clinton.
The Senior Counselor said that she saw the head of Lynch’s security detail turn away the second person at the door and allow former President Clinton to board the plane.”
It’s unknown who was with Clinton as the former President approached the plane. It could have been a staffer with the former President, but that question is not answered in the report.
Lynch maintains throughout the report and publicly that she had no knowledge that the meeting would occur. The former Attorney General’s staffers noted in the report that Lynch appeared to have regretted the meeting.
The next day members of Lynch’s team gathered to discuss the situation after learning I was tipped off.