Ayotte joins chorus calling for AG Lynch to recuse herself from Clinton probe
By Evan Lips | July 1, 2016, 13:47 EST
WASHINGTON — New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte on Friday called for U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to “formally recuse” herself from investigations involving presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a day after reports surfaced that Lynch and Clinton’s husband held a rendezvous aboard a private jet.
“As a former attorney general, I believe Attorney General Lynch should recuse herself from this case given the importance of the investigation and the need to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest to ensure that all Americans have confidence in the outcome,” Ayotte said in a prepared statement. “I am disappointed that she declined to do so.”
Ayotte, prior to being sworn in as senator in 2011, served as New Hampshire attorney general between 2004 and 2009. Her statement comes after Lynch told the Washington Post she “fully” expects to accept any recommendation handed down by “career” prosecutors in the Justice Department who have been tasked with investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state.
Lynch later said she regretted Thursday’s meeting with Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, which has been described as “impromptu.” The meeting occurred aboard a private airplane parked at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. Lynch told reporters that the conversation was “primarily social.”
“I certainly wouldn’t do it again, because I think it has cast a shadow,” Lynch said of her meeting, according to a POLITICO report. “The most important thing for me as attorney general is the integrity of this Department of Justice.
“And the fact that the meeting I had is now casting a shadow over how people will view that work is something I take seriously and deeply and painfully.”
Ayotte meanwhile remains locked into a fierce campaign to retain her seat, which is up for reelection this November and is crucial for Republicans in terms of retaining their majority in the Senate.
The latest poll averages produced by RealClearPolitics show Ayotte leading her Democratic challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan, by a scant 1.5 points.