The Phoenix meeting between former President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch that has caused the latest headache for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign came after the 42nd president was in the city for several scheduled events.
John Gomez, deputy chief of staff to Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo, told CNN Friday that Clinton met with Latino leaders Monday afternoon in Phoenix and participated in a roundtable discussion. He posted a photo of himself with Clinton to Twitter and said the discussion was held with 14 local Latino leaders, including state legislators and a former congressman.
Gomez told CNN during a phone interview that the presidential campaign was a large part of the conversation, as was education. According to Gomez, the former president made opening remarks and then mostly listened for the 45-minute meeting.
“Latino voter engagement is key,” added Gomez, who is hopeful Arizona goes blue in this year’s presidential election.
Clinton also attended a fundraiser for his wife’s campaign in the Phoenix area that day, according to a campaign source.
At the end of that day’s trip, Clinton and Lynch met privately in after the two realized they were on the same tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, an aide to the former president said. Lynch said the pair mostly talked about grandchildren and a little golf.
“It really was a social meeting, and it was, it really was in that regard,” she said Friday at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. “He spoke to me, he spoke to my husband for some time on the plane, and then we moved on.”
But the encounter has raised questions about whether the independence of the Justice Department, which is conducting an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server during her tenure as secretary of state, might have been compromised.
The conservative legal watchdog group Judicial Watch that has led the charge in suing for access to Hillary Clinton’s email records jumped on the news, calling for an investigation into what transpired between Lynch and Bill Clinton.
In Aspen, Lynch pledged to accept the determinations and findings of the FBI and career prosecutors who are investigating the matter. If she could do it over again, Lynch said Friday, she wouldn’t have met with the former president.
“I certainly wouldn’t do it again because I think it has cast this shadow over what it should not, over what it will not touch,” Lynch said at the event, adding, “It’s important to make it clear that that meeting with President Clinton does not have a bearing on how this matter will be reviewed and resolved.”