“Attorney-client privilege is alive and well in this country.”
Hours after his personal lawyer’s office, home and hotel room were raided by federal investigators on Monday, President Trump petulantly declared, “Attorney–client privilege is dead!” Loretta E. Lynch, the former attorney general of the United States, begs to differ. “It’s something that is an important aspect of our legal system. It’s something that everyone at the Department of Justice takes very seriously.” But that’s not why I asked Lynch to return to the podcast on Tuesday.
Before Lynch talked about the travails of Michael Cohen, I asked her about her own travails as attorney general. Specifically, about the impromptu meeting with former president Bill Clinton on an Arizona tarmac in June 2016. It set off a chain of events that reverberate to this date. “I was told he wanted to come on and say hello and said, ‘Okay, we can do that,’ because it was, in my mind, similar to how I’d encountered numerous other people in airports over the years,” Lynch told me in the latest episode of “Cape Up.” “It was supposed to be a short meet-and-greet, ‘Hi, how are you?’ ” she continued. “… That was supposed to be all that it was, and it just continued into a conversation much too long.” Lynch said a question about Clinton’s newest grandchild was the culprit.
Of course, the next question is, why didn’t you tell him to get off your plane? “Well, a few times we did say, ‘Great to see you. Thank you for stopping by,’ ” Lynch recounted, noting that she and her husband were standing, waiting to deplane as the former president held forth. “Then, ultimately, one of my staffers came on to assist with that to say we all have to move on to our evenings. And even then, we had to say, ‘We’re going to leave now. It’s time to move on.’ ”
I asked Lynch for her reaction to former FBI director James B. Comey’s June 2017 Senate Intelligence Committee testimony where he said her request to call the email probe a “matter,” not an “investigation,” gave him a “queasy feeling.” Lynch denied the accusation that she did anything wrong, pointing out that it was department practice to neither confirm nor deny whether an investigation was underway. “At no time during the pendency of the email investigation, beginning, middle or end,” she said, “did I ever direct or coerce anyone to say or do anything inappropriate or to come to me with a specific recommendation or conclusion.”
As for Comey’s “queasy feeling”? “I can’t speak to the state of his stomach. He looked fine that morning,” Lynch recalled before talking about her “good working relationship” with Comey. “It was open. It was positive. We communicated well, or so I thought.”
Listen to the podcast to hear Lynch talk about the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, go into detail about the steps that were required to get the search warrants against Trump’s lawyer and talk about how she has dealt with the dings to her reputation as a result of the criticisms of her handling of the Clinton email probe. “If you want to win a popularity contest, don’t become a prosecutor,” Lynch said. “All you can do is hold onto your own integrity.”