Joseph diGenova, a well-respected former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, predicted today that Hillary Clinton will be indicted for crimes connected with her use of a private email server for State Department business. He made this prediction on Laura Ingraham’s radio program.
For Hillary to be indicted, the FBI would have to call for an indictment and the Attorney General would have to approve the recommendation. FBI director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are both Obama appointees.
Comey has a reputation as a straight shooter. In part, that reputation derives from the independence he displayed as a high-ranking Justice Department official during the administration of President George W. Bush.
It’s one thing to be independent under a Republican president and another to be that way in a Democratic administration. The former display will win you loud applause from the mainstream media (indeed, the applause Comey won during the Bush administration is probably what landed him the FBI director’s post under Obama). The latter will make you a villain, which tends to discourage independent conduct. .
On the other hand, Comey has already displayed some independence as FBI director. Moreover, folks I know who worked with Comey before his rise to prominence vouch for his independence and integrity. One friend whose judgment I trust is fairly confident that Comey will play it straight when it comes Hillary Clinton.
Apparently, then, Comey’s statement to a Senate committee that the FBI doesn’t “give a rip about politics” should be taken at face value. And to the extent that the FBI goes where the facts lead, it’s quite possible, for reasons diGenova explained during his interview by Ingraham, that it will seek an indictment.
What about Loretta Lynch, though? It strikes me as very unlikely that she would approve an indictment of Clinton. Liberal Democrats rarely do that sort of thing to other liberal Democrats. And frankly, with the White House at stake, I wouldn’t expect a conservative Republican to do it to another conservative Republican.
DiGenova says that if Lynch declines to approve an indictment called for by the FBI, all hell would break loose. This seems likely. The FBI probably wouldn’t take Lynch’s decision lying down, and the intelligence community, appalled as it is by Clinton’s mishandling of confidential and even classified information, could also be expected to make sure word of Lynch’s action gets out.
DiGenova predicts that in this scenario, Lynch wouldn’t survive as Attorney General. He adds that the situation would be comparable to that which occurred during the Watergate scandal when the Attorney General and his Assistant resigned after refusing to follow President Nixon’s order to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
This, I think, overstates the case. Lynch would likely survive (if she wanted to) because President Obama would protect her.
As for Watergate, there are differences. First, the biased mainstream media would likely underplay, and certainly wouldn’t pump up, a dispute between Lynch and Comey. In any event, a dispute between the FBI director and the Attorney General doesn’t rise to the level of a dispute between the President and the Attorney General. Moreover, unlike with Watergate, there might not be any firing in connection with a proposed indictment of Hillary.
Even so, the scenario we’re contemplating — (1) Comey recommends an indictment, (2) Lynch declines to indict, and (3) word of this gets out would — would be potentially devastating for Hillary Clinton. Running for president when the public knows the FBI, headed by an Obama appointee, wanted to indict you for offenses relating to national security (and you were saved only by Obama’s Attorney General) would be quite a burden no matter how much the mainstream media had your back.
Few would be inclined to try, but I doubt that Hillary would stand down. Nor is it beyond the realm of the possible that she could win even under these circumstances, especially if the Republican nominee is unpopular.