Obama’s endorsement of Clinton and the DOJ’s investigation of her email practices

President Obama has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton. No surprise there.

The endorsement means that Clinton is now being investigated by a Justice Department whose head (Attorney General Loretta Lynch) serves at the pleasure of a president who backs Clinton’s presidential bid, and who was hand-picked by that president with the understanding that she’s a loyalist. This reality would, and I think should, raise questions as to the impartiality of a decision clearing Clinton.

Ben Dommenech argues that Lynch should therefore appoint a special prosecutor to handle the Clinton email investigation (and any related scandals), as happened with Scooter Libby. A special prosecutor could also be dismissed, but there’s a significant price to be paid for this. Obama probably wouldn’t want the dismissal of a special prosecutor to be part of his legacy.

The problem I see with a special prosecutor is that he or she would need time to learn the facts and shape the investigation. We’re already fairly late in the political season. I question whether a new prosecutor could wrap things up before November. Anyway, things need to be wrapped up much sooner than that. The decision on whether to prosecute should not be made after Clinton has been nominated.

One solution would be to appoint FBI director James Comey the special prosecutor, as Dan McLaughlin at NRO suggests. However, this strikes me as unrealistic. In effect, Lynch would be giving her current subordinate the power to make a decision she’s now charged with making.

I think the best we realistically can hope for is that Comey will make an honest call (those who know him believe he will); that he will do it soon; and that if Lynch overrules him, we’ll find out promptly. That’s not the same as having Comey serve as special prosecutor, but it does mean Clinton will have to pay a not insubstantial price if Comey concludes that she broke the law.

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