A federal prosecutor friend wrote me recently and attached a news article with the headline, “Decision Time for FBI on Clinton.”
“Why does the media say stuff like this?” he asked. “The FBI has no say in this or any investigation.” And he went on to muse about how reporters just don’t seem to understand that the only entity that can make a “decision” on whether to indict Hillary Clinton for the way she (mis)handled her State Department e-mails is the office of the U.S. Attorney General.
He’s right. The the final decision is up to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
With that said, I figure it is time to talk about the elephant in the room. Elephant, is thy name partisan politics?
It will be A.G. Lynch who makes the ultimate decision about whether then-Secretary of State Clinton broke the law when she bypassed the government’s computer system and re-routed her e-mails through a non-secure server at her home. And the clock is ticking on the A.G.’s conclusion.
The democratic convention is 10 weeks away and it’s a given that the pressure is on to announce the decision to proceed or drop the case before the party gathers in Philadelphia. The FBI is, reportedly, wrapping up its final interviews with top Clinton staffers and will soon send its findings to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
We would all like to believe the nation’s top cop is above political motivations but let’s take a look at Lynch’s background. She’s Harvard educated, worked as a litigator for a white glove law firm in New York City and in 1990 she became a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn. She rose in the ranks and in 1999 President Bill Clinton appointed her to the post of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Lynch was responsible for several high profile prosecutions and, by all accounts, she was a terrific and tough U.S. Attorney. In 2014, President Obama nominated her to come to Washington to head the Department of Justice as Attorney General of the United States.
See a pattern there? In these times of rough-and-tumble presidential campaigns one should never discount the possibility of partisan politics rearing its ugly head. Realize, Lynch is being asked to decide the fate of the democrat’s presumptive presidential nominee, a woman whose husband appointed her to a prestigious position in 1999. Furthermore, Lynch got her current high profile job from another democratic president who certainly does not want a republican in the White House.
No matter what the nabobs say about a simmering feud between the Obamas and the Clintons there is no way Barack Obama wants to be even marginally responsible for a republican taking his job. This is not to suggest the president has sent word to Lynch, or had a conversation with her, to go easy on Hillary Clinton. There need be no such conversation. Lynch knows what’s on the line. If she announces she’s seeking an indictment, or taking the case to a grand jury, Hillary Clinton’s years-long attempt to be president is in serious jeopardy.
It begs the questions: how tough is it to put personal allegiances aside when deciding a life-changing legal issue? Ask yourself, would you be able to go against people who had so significantly helped your career? Where does loyalty end and responsibility take over?
Back to my no-nonsense federal prosecutor friend. I asked what he thinks Lynch might do now that the State Department says classified information did, indeed, flow through Clinton’s home server.
“Classified info cannot be possessed anywhere but a secure government location,” he wrote. “I have no way of predicting what will happen but most of us in the field believe (Hillary Clinton) has (already) been given a silent, preemptive pardon.”
When I pressed him on that point he responded, “Anyone else would have been locked up. (T)hen the investigation would continue with that person in jail awaiting trial.”
Obviously, that hasn’t happened. And Hillary Clinton has repeatedly denied she put any classified material within reach of foreign operatives who might have hacked into her non-secure server. Her camp maintains the “classified” and “top secret” designations were slapped on the emails after-the-fact as the State Department prepared the documents for public release.
It’s not just federal prosecutors who are watching how their boss handles this political hot potato. Journalists who know about personal conflict of interest ethics should be watching too. I for one think Lynch should recuse herself and let someone with no connection to the Clinton’s or the White House make the decision.
The world is watching and history will certainly make note of how Loretta Lynch handles it.