The Clinton-Lynch Conversation: All Innuendo, No Facts

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Lanny Davis Former Special Counsel to President Bill Clinton
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Here we go again.

The U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch, on Friday stated flat out, without qualification, that she would accept the recommendations of the FBI and not overrule it concerning whether any laws were possibly violated in Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to store her personal and official emails.

That is a fact.

The innuendo is that Lynch is lying – because she was visited on her airplane for 30 minutes by former President Bill Clinton, who discussed personal and social matters and never touched upon, in any way, the FBI emails investigation.

Is anyone actually accusing Loretta Lynch of lying?  Not yet, at least in the media.

But the partisan Republicans and some members of the media don’t have the guts to use the word “lying” in making that accusation. The innuendo is that even though no one disputes that President Clinton in his brief visit never once mentioned the email investigation – here comes the pure innuendo – “well, you know, Bill Clinton can schmooze very well,” and the message he intended to send and that Lynch received is “Go easy on Hillary.”

Note that pure innuendo is not only free of any facts.  It is plain stupid. The very fact of the visit makes it even more definite – not that it needed to be made more definite – that Loretta Lynch would not interfere or attempt to influence the outcome of the FBI investigation. Now that she has categorically stated exactly that, the day after the meeting, are there any facts left to doubt her? To justify calling her a liar? No.

Does anyone report a single fact – not two, not three, just one – as evidence that she is lying? Or that anyone has influenced or attempted to influence FBI Director James Comey, who will receive the report of his line FBI investigators on this matter? Comey served as deputy attorney general under President George W. Bush and prior to that had been appointed by Bush as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Is it even plausible that Comey – whose record of political independence, professional integrity, and strength of character is beyond question — would allow his judgment to be affected by President Clinton briefly visiting with AG Loretta Lynch to talk about his grandchildren and other personal topics?

So what do we have here? We have a media storm created by a media storm – a “controversy,” that is, created by that media storm.  It’s a storm fed by partisan attacks from Republicans who are desperate to change the topic from the reckless and dangerous man they are about to nominate, rushing to the microphones with pure innuendo, calls for “recusal,” a “special counsel,” “outrage,” blah blah blah.

All innuendo – no facts.

Yes, of course President Clinton and the attorney general, with the wisdom of hindsight, must regret their innocent meeting talking about grandchildren in the middle of this extreme-journalist/partisan-cable-TV-fueled complex that feeds on itself and the innuendo it spreads to create an “uproar,” and then the media justify the need to keep reporting the “uproar”– which is not based on a single fact.

Yes, we are in the age of innuendo, which has become a surrogate for fact, where reputations can be forever harmed by an accusation that makes it to the headlines, further fed by the near hysteria of cable news’ 24/7 “breaking news” breathless coverage … and all the time, not a single fact reported to substantiate the negative “fear” that the FBI investigation “may” be compromised.

Yes, we are in the age where it’s not the substance of what happens that makes it improper, but the “appearance” of what happened. Optics now matter more than substance? Seriously?

That is our culture – and it is horrible, and disgusting, and unfair. But this is the reality of the ratings-seeking media culture, responsible for so much of the rot in our political system that the American people, understandably, are rebelling against.

It is my opinion, based on lots of evidence, that the FBI investigation will continue without political influence, led by a former Republican deputy attorney general, and that the FBI’s recommendation on whether any crimes were committed in the handling of the emails will then be reviewed by professional prosecutors in the Department of Justice who will make the decision, entirely on the merits, whether there is sufficient evidence to bring a case. (It should be remembered that the FBI investigates – it is not a prosecutor or a grand jury.  The press and partisan Republicans frequently forget that.)

Whatever outcome, is there anyone – anyone – on the cable shows, in our national political leadership, or among journalists and lawyers, who believe in the Constitution and the presumption of innocence? Is there anyone willing to say  “Enough”? Anyone willing to say: “Let’s stop – let’s wait for the facts”?

I am willing to say, enough.

Anyone want to join me?

Lanny Davis, a Washington attorney specializing in legal crisis management, is a weekly columnist in The Hill newspaper and author of “Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping With Crises in Business, Politics and Life.” He served as special counsel to President Clinton from 1996-98 and is a longtime friend and supporter of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.