Washington (AFP) - US Attorney General Loretta Lynch pledged Friday to respect FBI and prosecutors' decisions on whether to charge presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton over her use of personal email while at the State Department. Lynch was forced to make the announcement after she held an impromptu meeting with former president Bill Clinton at the airport in Phoenix, Arizona this week and touched off a political firestorm.
The top US law enforcement official admitted that the private encounter had "cast a shadow" over the investigation into Clinton's emails in the runup to the November general election. But Lynch insisted that she, as a political appointee, will not overrule investigators or otherwise interfere in the legal process regarding the probe, and that the integrity of the Justice Department will be upheld.
"The recommendations will be reviewed by career supervisors in the Department of Justice and in the FBI, and by the FBI director," Lynch told a conference in Colorado. "And then as is the common process, they present it to me, and I fully expect to accept their recommendations."
Republicans have argued for days that the encounter compromised the integrity of the investigation.
"If this isn't a conflict of interest, then we don't know what is," the Republican National Committee said on Twitter regarding the tarmac meeting, even before Lynch had finished her remarks.
Lynch said her meeting with former president Clinton "does not have a bearing on how this matter is going to be reviewed, resolved and accepted by me."