Andrea Mitchell Rejects ‘Conspiracy Theories’ About Clinton/Lynch Meeting

During her 12 p.m. ET hour MSNBC show on Thursday, host Andrea Mitchell dismissed the controversy over Bill Clinton’s private meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch as nothing more than a “conspiracy theory” as she rushed to defend Hillary Clinton.  

Mitchell lamented even having to discuss story: “Now on top of all of this, as though there weren't enough conspiracy theories out there already....Bill Clinton was in Arizona flying on a private jet, private airport....he did say hello to Loretta Lynch, met with her for about 30 minutes, she said it was completely social, they talked about grandchildren.”

She fretted: “But this has led to a lot of conspiracy theories that even before Hillary Clinton has been interviewed by the FBI, to our knowledge, that somehow this is Bill Clinton talking to Loretta Lynch about clearing Hillary Clinton of the e-mail investigation. So there’s a lot of stuff out there...”

Mitchell tried to excuse the incident as a matter of courtesy: “They both have Secret Service security details and it is, we are told, traditional that when Bill Clinton knows that a cabinet secretary or another protectee, like Ted Cruz during the campaign, is in the area, he'll say, ‘Oh, let me say hello.’”

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Moments later, she turned to White House correspondent Kristen Welker and declared: “It does, I guess, fuel the conspiracy theorists and shows that it wasn't smart of either of them to have had a private meeting.”

Welker admitted, “There's no doubt the optics aren't great,” but hastened to parrot talking points from the Clinton campaign: “I was speaking with an official just moments ago who stressed the fact that this wasn't set up. I think part of what you're hearing from Republicans is that this was in some way arranged beforehand. It wasn't.”

She continued: “As you pointed out, they happened to be at the same tarmac at the same time. It's protocol for former President Clinton to greet someone like this and say hello. And as you say, they talked about grandkids, that's what we’re hearing at least from the Clinton side.”

Welker grudgingly acknowledged, “...the optics aren't great, the FBI investigation obviously getting a lot of attention right now....And even Chris Coons, Democratic senator, said this doesn't look right. So I think it's a problem of optics for Secretary Clinton.”

Wrapping up the segment, she noted that Clinton was “off the campaign trail today, so she’s not going to get any questions about it,” but added, “there's no doubt that Donald Trump, other Republicans, will try to keep the story alive.” The implication being the media will be trying to kill the story.  

Count Mitchell and Welker’s colleagues on Morning Joe among the “conspiracy theorists” skeptical of the meeting. Co-host Mika Brzezinski went so far as to label Clinton spin about the suspicious encounter “a complete sham.”

Here is a full transcript of the June 30 MSNBC exchange:

12:12 PM ET

ANDREA MITCHELL: Now on top of all of this, as though there weren't enough conspiracy theories out there already – let me give the backdrop here because Donald Trump was on a radio interview today with Mike Gallagher and he talked about this, so we want to explain what the context was.

Former President Bill Clinton was in Arizona flying on a private jet, private airport. So was Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General, she flies on a small government plane. They both have Secret Service security details and it is, we are told, traditional that when Bill Clinton knows that a cabinet secretary or another protectee, like Ted Cruz during the campaign, is in the area, he'll say, "Oh, let me say hello." Because the Secret Service details talk to each other and say another unit is about to arrive.

So he did say hello to Loretta Lynch, met with her for about 30 minutes, she said it was completely social, they talked about grandchildren. But this has led to a lot of conspiracy theories that even before Hillary Clinton has been interviewed by the FBI, to our knowledge, that somehow this is Bill Clinton talking to Loretta Lynch about clearing Hillary Clinton of the e-mail investigation. So there’s a lot of stuff out there and this is what Donald Trump had to say today on that radio interview.

DONALD TRUMP: It was really a sneak. I mean, it was really a – you know, it was really something that they didn't want publicized, as I understand. Isn't that correct?

MIKE GALLAGHER: Correct.

TRUMP: I think it's so terrible. I think it’s so horrible. I think it's the biggest story – one of the biggest stories of this week, of this month, of this year. You know, I've been talking about the rigged system, how it's rigged, and you know, this is terrible.

GALLAGHER: There's your example.

TRUMP: And nobody can understand why nothing’s happened and you see a thing like this and even in terms of judgment, how bad a judgment is it for him or for her to do this? I mean, who would do this? And I see it's a massive story now, it's all over.

MITCHELL: Well, Kristen Welker, as a White House correspondent, you know how this kind of thing can happen. It does, I guess, fuel the conspiracy theorists and shows that it wasn't smart of either of them to have had a private meeting.

KRISTEN WELKER: There's no doubt the optics aren't great. I was speaking with an official just moments ago who stressed the fact that this wasn't set up. I think part of what you're hearing from Republicans is that this was in some way arranged beforehand. It wasn't. As you pointed out, they happened to be at the same tarmac at the same time. It's protocol for former President Clinton to greet someone like this and say hello. And as you say, they talked about grandkids, that's what we’re hearing at least from the Clinton side.

But again, the optics aren't great, the FBI investigation obviously getting a lot of attention right now. Secretary Clinton having to answer a lot of questions about that on the campaign trail. And even Chris Coons, Democratic senator, said this doesn't look right. So I think it's a problem of optics for Secretary Clinton. Now, she’s off the campaign trail today, so she’s not going to get any questions about it, but there's no doubt that Donald Trump, other Republicans, will try to keep the story alive.

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