White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday stopped well short of offering a full defense of a secret meeting Attorney General Loretta Lynch had earlier this week with Bill Clinton on her airplane in Phoenix and said that questions about the suspicious conclave are “entirely legitimate.”
“I think the question you’re asking is entirely legitimate. And I think the question that was asked of Attorney General Lynch was entirely legitimate,” Earnest told a reporter during a White House daily press briefing.
The spokesman was asked numerous times if the White House is comfortable with the appearance that the former president was attempting to exert political influence on Lynch while the Justice Department is investigating his wife. (RELATED: Why Did Bill Clinton And Loretta Lynch Meet On Her Airplane This Week?)
“I’ll let the Attorney General speak to her meetings,” Earnest said at one point.
“I think the bottom line is simply that both the President [Obama] and the Attorney General understand how important it is for the Department of Justice to conduct investigations that are free of political interference,” he added.
Lynch met with Clinton for a half-hour late Monday or early Tuesday while her plane was waiting on the tarmac at Phoenix’s airport. Lynch was in town to attend a forum on community policing. She claimed that Clinton happened to be at the airport and that she and Clinton discussed golf and his grandchildren and not her agency’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Stoking suspicion about the conclave is the fact that Lynch did not disclose it until she was asked about it by local reporters at a press conference.
Earnest said that adhering to the rule of law is “paramount” because it “prevents erosion in the public confidence in our justice system.”
In the same breath he asserted that Lynch abides by that code.
“This is a principle that Attorney General Lynch has dedicated her three decades in law enforcement to,” Earnest said.
“She certainly understands that investigations should be conducted free of political interference and consistent with the facts. Investigators should be guided by the facts and by evidence.”
Reporters pointed out that Earnest avoided questions about whether Lynch should have met with Clinton.
“Well, I wasn’t there for the meeting,” he said. “But the Attorney General was. She was asked a direct question about it, and she answered it. I think that’s consistent with everybody’s expectations.”
He said that he has not discussed the meeting with Obama.