As the FBI and Justice Department probe the Hillary Clinton email saga, two people who probably shouldn't have met did just that Monday. Bill Clinton was waiting to depart Phoenix's airport when Attorney General Loretta Lynch landed for a community event—and so Clinton ambled across the tarmac and onto her aircraft, a move that's made "Democrats groan" and Republicans cry conflict of interest, Politico notes. "There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body," Lynch later told reporters, per NPR, saying the "primarily social" visit focused on travel, Clinton's grandkids, and even his golf game. She adds email and Benghazi were two subjects that never arose and that her husband was also present, CNN reports. But news of the get-together prompted criticism from Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, who's long led GOP claims that a Democratic DOJ probe into Clinton's email woes won't be on the up-and-up.
"An attorney cannot represent two parties in a dispute and must avoid even the appearance of conflict," he tweeted Thursday. And while some top Dems rushed to Lynch's defense—Chuck Schumer calls her "an honorable person" who wouldn't lie about this, and Harry Reid says that "no one could ever question her… strong feelings about the rule of law and her ethics," per the Hill—others say the situation should've been avoided. "I think [Lynch] should have steered clear, even of a brief, casual social meeting with the former president," Delaware Sen. Chris Coons told Alisyn Camerota of CNN, adding it sent "the wrong signal." And former Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted Thursday that while he took the two at their word, it was "foolish to create such optics." CBS News reporter Paul Reid, meanwhile, calls the development "shocking" and says Lynch is "no shrinking violet." "She's stood up to El Chapo, she has taken on FIFA—she is not incapable [of] telling someone, 'Look, you can't come on my plane,'" he notes.