(Paul Chesser, Liberty Headlines) Despite being at the center of several controversies and scandals surrounding the administration of President Barack Obama and the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will be honored with an award in her home state on Thursday.
Lynch is one of six current or former citizens scheduled to receive the North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor. Chosen annually by the governor, recipients are recognized for their accomplishments in culture, arts, science and public service. Lynch will receive her award from a fellow Democrat, Gov. Roy Cooper, at a ceremony and banquet in downtown Raleigh.
“It is such a privilege to honor these remarkable people who have made North Carolina better through their extraordinary accomplishments,” said Susi Hamilton, secretary of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, which administers the awards as part of the Governor’s administration. “Each of them has enriched the lives of our citizens and enhanced our state’s reputation as a center of culture, arts, science and public service.”
Recognition of Lynch — who was born in Greensboro and grew up in Durham — for public service comes as she is under scrutiny for several questionable judgments, dubious investigations (or failures to investigate), and radical social engineering via legal actions, while heading the U.S. Department of Justice under President Obama.
For example, under Lynch the DOJ last year sued the State of North Carolina over House Bill 2, a law that required individuals to use public restrooms according to the gender designated on their birth certificates, not based on “sexual identity” or “gender fluidity.” The Justice Department warned that the law violated the Civil Rights Act, and its lawsuit alleged that “transgender individuals seeking access to covered facilities have suffered and continue to suffer injury,…emotional harm, mental anguish, distress, humiliation, and indignity…,” because of the law.
One defender of House Bill 2 — which was repealed and replaced earlier this year — found Cooper’s recognition of Lynch for meritorious public service to be an offense.
“Governor Cooper’s choice of Loretta Lynch for North Carolina’s highest honor is an insult to the people of our state,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, in an emailed statement. “As U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch ridiculed, threatened, and finally sued the State of North Carolina for passing a common-sense law that protected the privacy and safety of its citizens by requiring that people use showers, bathrooms, and changing facilities in accordance with the sex on their birth certificates instead of the gender they identify with. Ms. Lynch thus demonstrated her animosity for the values held dear by the state in which she was born.”
The controversy surrounding Lynch isn’t limited to the Tar Heel State. Perhaps the greatest suspicion about her surrounds a secret meeting she had with former President Bill Clinton last year on the Justice Department jet, while parked on the tarmac at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport in June 2016. The meeting came at the height of attention on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State under President Obama, during her pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination. It occurred while the FBI was concluding its investigation of the email scandal and considering whether to bring charges, and the meeting also took place only hours before a release of a report about the Benghazi attacks.
Only a week later then-FBI Director James Comey announced that Clinton was exonerated of any wrongdoing in the email scandal, saying she was “extremely careless” in handling classified information rather than the criminally chargeable “grossly negligent,” which was the language Comey had used in an earlier draft of his report. The “extremely careless” characterization matched President Obama’s public statements from April 2016 about Clinton’s handling of emails.
“The [Washington] Post explained that, according to its sources inside the investigation, there was ‘scant evidence tying Clinton to criminal wrongdoing’ because there was ‘scant evidence that Clinton had malicious intent in [the] handling of e-mails,” explained former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy in National Review in September. “Like Obama, the Post and its sources neglected to mention that Mrs. Clinton’s felonies did not require proof of ‘malicious intent’ or any purpose to harm the United States – just that she willfully transmitted classified information, was grossly negligent in handling it, and withheld or destroyed government records.”
Lynch’s Justice Department also prevented the FBI from questioning Clinton’s top aide, Cheryl Mills, about which of her boss’s private server emails would be turned over to the State Department and which would be withheld.
Among other Justice Department “shenanigans” during the investigation of Clinton during the email scandal, according to McCarthy: “Cutting off key areas of inquiry; cutting inexplicable immunity deals; declining to use the grand jury to compel evidence; agreeing to limit searches of computers (in order to miss key time-frames when obstruction occurred); agreeing to destroy physical evidence (laptop computers); failing to charge and squeeze witnesses who made patently false statements; allowing subjects of the investigation to act as lawyers for other subjects of the investigation (in order to promote the charade that some evidence was off-limits due to the attorney-client privilege); and so on.”
Illustrative of the appearance that the Justice Department wanted to go easy on the former Secretary of State, Comey said that Lynch asked him to refer to the email controversy as a “matter” and not an “investigation,” which he said made him feel “queasy.”
Another questionable decision under Lynch’s authority surrounded the circumstances of the sale of 20 percent of U.S. uranium to Russian company Uranium One. Clinton was part of a government panel that approved the deal, which Russian interests sought to influence. According to The Hill, based on information in government documents, “the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.” Part of the money flow reportedly included millions of dollars that were routed to the Clinton Foundation, and a $500,000 speaking gig for former President Bill Clinton.
According to several news reports, an undercover FBI informant has been prepared to provide information to Congress about the Russian uranium deal, but according to his attorney, was threatened by the Justice Department that he would be charged criminally for violating a nondisclosure agreement. The current Justice Department, under President Trump, has released the informant from that agreement and will be allowed to testify.
Finally, Lynch’s tenure as Attorney General is considered suspect by many conservatives, especially those who were targeted by the IRS for their ideology and saw their efforts to gain tax-exempt nonprofit status either delayed or outright denied. The IRS admitted wrongdoing last month in a settlement with the groups reached by the Trump Justice Department, but none of the agency’s personnel or leadership were terminated or faced consequences as a result.
“Abuse of power necessarily means something was done inappropriately,” said Tom Fitton, president of government watchdog Judicial Watch, “and the question is can we trust the last administration, the politicized Justice Department under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch and the FBI under James Comey to honestly investigate the IRS, and I don’t think you can.”
All of which called into question whether Lynch deserves the North Carolina Award for exceptional public service. Tami Fitzgerald, the NC Values Coalition director, is holding the governor to account for his decision.
“With this award,” she said, “Governor Cooper is demonstrating his disdain for the people he represents.”