"I do regret sitting down and having a conversation with him, because it did give people concern. And as I said, my greatest concern has always been making sure that people understand that the Department of Justice works in a way that is independent and looks at everybody equally," Lynch said.
All she heard before she allowed Clinton to board her plane June 27 for the meeting that would cause such an uproar was that the former president "wanted to say hello," she said.
But the impromptu meeting came just before the FBI was due to announce the results of its inquiry into then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's private email server, and would raise questions about how impartial the Justice Department really was in the matter. The FBI is an agency of the Justice Department.
Lynch said she didn't anticipate the flap. "I regretted not seeing that issue and not seeing around that corner," she said.
She also noted that the conversation went longer than she anticipated. "He's a talker," she commented of Clinton.
Both have maintained that the meeting was purely social. But, "when you do something that gives people a reason to think differently, that's a problem," she admitted. "It was a problem for me. It was painful for me, and so I felt it was important to clarify it as quickly and as clearly and as cleanly as possible."
Lynch also repeated that the FBI investigation into Clinton's email server was handled the way investigations are typically handled, and declined to say that FBI Director James Comey went against her wishes in his decision to send a letter to Congress about newly discovered emails days before the November 11 election.
The Clinton campaign insists that Comey's letter tipped the election balance in favor of her opponent, President-elect Donald Trump.