ACRU

Perhaps Loretta Lynch Should Take Annual Ethics Training, Too

Judge's gavel

This column by ACRU Policy Board member Hans von Spakovsky was published July 1, 2016 by National Review.

In all of the uproar over the private meeting that Attorney General Loretta Lynch had at the Phoenix airport with former President Bill Clinton, it may be of interest to note the immigration-amnesty litigation still going on between the administration and 26 states.

Lynch has said there was no discussion of the major investigation going on of Hillary Clinton, her e-mail server, and the Clinton Foundation, but critics are correct that this meeting gives the appearance of impropriety. Lynch is an experienced prosecutor and should know that having a meeting with the husband of the target of an FBI investigation—and whose actions through his involvement with the Clinton Foundation could also make him a potential witness or even a target—was inappropriate (and foolish).

As Texas Senator John Cornyn said in calling for a special counsel, “This incident does nothing to instill confidence in the American people that her department can fully and fairly conduct this investigation.”

But this is going on at the same time as the fight that Lynch’s Justice Department is waging in U.S. v. Texas. This is the immigration case in which the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed (by an equally divided court) the preliminary injunction issued by federal district-court judge Andrew Hanen preventing the Obama administration from implementing its amnesty plan for up to five million illegal aliens. In May, Hanen issued an order sanctioning the Justice Department because its lawyers had repeatedly lied to him in court, engaging in “unseemly and unprofessional conduct.”

Amongst the various sanctions he ordered was a requirement that all DOJ attorneys stationed in Washington, D.C., who appear in the courts of any of the 26 states that filed this lawsuit, must take a yearly ethics training course (and Lynch has to certify their attendance). Hanen directed Loretta Lynch to file a comprehensive plan within 60 days “to prevent this unethical conduct from every occurring again.” Because Hanen believes that whatever the Office of Professional Responsibility at DOJ is doing “has not been effective,” Hanen also ordered Lynch to inform him within 60 days of the steps she is taking to “ensure” that OPR “effectively polices the conduct of the Justice Department lawyers and appropriately disciplines those whose actions fall below the standards that the American people rightfully expect from their Department of Justice.”

But the Justice Department is fighting this order and has filed an appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming the judge is acting beyond his authority (Judge Hanen has stayed his order and given DOJ until the end of July to file further briefing on DOJ’s objections to the order). Given her apparent lack of judgment in holding a meeting with a possible witness and potential target in a major (and politically sensitive) FBI investigation being supervised by her own Justice Department, Loretta Lynch might want to consider taking a refresher course in the type of ethics training ordered by Judge Hanen.