Attorney General Loretta Lynch. (Nancy Wiechec/Reuters)
Opinion writer

What a joke. The New York Times dutifully reports in a headline today, “Loretta Lynch to accept FBI recommendations in Clinton email inquiry.”  Wasn’t that a given?  Wouldn’t it only be news if the Justice Department announced they may NOT accept the recommendation of the career FBI agents investigating Hillary Clinton?

The meeting Attorney General Loretta Lynch had with former president Bill Clinton on board her airplane in Phoenix is stunning. I wonder if at any other point during her time in office she has met privately with the spouse of another person who is the subject of a DOJ criminal investigation. There’s no way.

The denials from the attorney general and the former president that they did not discuss the criminal investigation underway against Hillary Clinton are beside the point. Just having the meeting sent a clear signal that the attorney general is cozy with the Clintons. In case career-minded FBI agents weren’t already intimidated by President Obama inserting himself into the investigation by declaring that Clinton’s private email server didn’t “jeopardize America’s national security,” the message was sent by this meeting: Any ambitious FBI agent hoping for a promotion in a potential Clinton administration can only hurt themselves by going against the wishes of the Clintons’ pal, Lynch.  The tarmac tête-à-tête was probably effective. Lynch and the Clintons both knew exactly how the meeting would be received.

But it’s just this kind of coziness that has infuriated voters. Voters hate “insider deals,” especially when they are so flagrant. In case voters needed to be reminded the rules don’t apply to the Clintons, there couldn’t have been a better way to refresh what they have already learned time and time again. It’s this kind of insulting behavior that fuels rage at the status quo.

Our friend Jonathan Capehart at The Post asked the right question to Lynch during Friday’s Aspen Ideas forum.  He asked Lynch what she was thinking when she met with Clinton, and she tried to defend herself – but it’s too late. No amount of mea culpa and faux hand-wringing can cleanse the Lynch Justice Department of this stain. And now even a recusal, much less a so-called “step back,” whatever that means, won’t make a difference.  A line has been crossed.

And, oh by the way, I notice that when pressed on the topics of conversation during her meeting with Clinton, Lynch told reporters that, “It was primarily social and about our travels.”  Well, everybody should know by now that within the Obama administration generally and with the Clintons specifically, they parse their words carefully when walking the fine line. If the meeting was “primarily” some personal chitchat, what was the “secondary” purpose of the meeting?

Sure, Obama, Lynch and the Clintons are taking some heat right now. But it’s better than the heat they would get if Hillary Clinton is indicted.  And in that regard, the tarmac tête-à-tête was probably a net plus for Clinton.