DOJ Walks Back Lynch Comment That She’ll Follow Prosecutor Lead in Hillary Email Probe

By Dustin Siggins Published on July 3, 2016

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made news late this week when said she would accept the recommendations of the FBI and career prosecutors concerning whether Hillary Clinton’s email practices broke federal law. But a Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson has now walked that statement back, suggesting Lynch could overturn any recommendations.

“They all expect to receive and accept the recommendations,” Melanie Newman told Yahoo News when asked about the roles Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates might play in any DOJ decisions about former Secretary of State Clinton. But Newman also said the recommendations will not dictate that process. “It is unlikely there will be such a circumstance” where career prosecutors are overruled. “But, obviously, that possibility exists,” Newman said, adding, “The AG is the ultimate decider.”

Lynch has been under bipartisan criticism for meeting privately with former President Bill Clinton for 30 minutes on her airplane. Bill Clinton’s wife has been under FBI investigation for months related to whether she violated federal law as Secretary of State, yet Lynch says she and Clinton made small talk about their grandchildren and other matters of little consequence.

On Friday, Lynch admitted she made an error. “I certainly wouldn’t do it again because I think it has cast a shadow over how this case will be perceived,” The Daily Caller reported her saying.

Lynch said she would rely on career prosecutors for what course should be taken. “Then, as is the common process, they present it to me and I fully expect to accept their recommendations,” she said.

Lynch also said that while she would not recuse herself from the Clinton findings — “A recusal would mean I wouldn’t even be briefed on what the findings were,” she explained — she does not “have a role in those findings or coming up with those findings … I will be briefed on it and I will be accepting their recommendations.”

Newman’s comments, however, indicate Lynch could override recommendations from career prosecutors. Whether she will — and what role if any President Obama may have in the decision-making process — is the question of the hour.

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