When asked about the FBI investigation into her email scandal broadening to include corruption allegations, Hillary Clinton’s response was to declare the report was “absolutely not true,” an “unsourced, irresponsible claim that has no basis.”
Rarely has someone whistled past a graveyard at such a high tone, so badly off-key.
As many observers hastened to point out, there’s no legal way Hillary Clinton would know if the Fox News story about the widening FBI probe was true or not. The story was based on anonymous sources within the intelligence community, bolstered with accounts of FBI agents growing increasingly angry at the prospect their meticulous investigation will be discarded by the politicized Justice Department to protect Clinton.
The FBI doesn’t have to formally notify Clinton that its probe is expanding; indeed, given the case and the subject, they would be wise to hold off on letting her know for as long as possible. The Clinton machine is very, very good at getting to people who might damage the Big He and Big She.
Even as Clinton was dismissing the Fox News report out of hand, former U.S. attorney Joseph DiGenova was confirming the key revelations, saying he has been told 150 FBI agents are working the Clinton corruption case, and the investigation has been in progress for months.
Everything described in the Fox News piece is entirely plausible, and consistent with the events of the past year. The intelligence community does think former CIA director General David Petraeus got off light, and what Clinton did is orders of magnitude worse than his offenses – she’s up to 1,340 classified emails on the server she swore contained zero, and her effort to challenge the severe Top Secret classification for two of them failed spectacularly.
Contrary to Clinton’s blithe assurances, her private server was unprecedented, and very much against both federal and State Department procedures. Questions have been swirling around her finances and the activities of the “Clinton Foundation” for a long time, and it’s long been thought one of her primary motivations for setting up a private server was to conceal correspondence that could shed unwelcome light on the intersection between her State Department job and her political and financial portfolio.
To put the best possible spin on it for Clinton, even if they don’t find anything damning, one can hardly blame the FBI for wondering if there’s a fire behind all that smoke. It’s her fault this is all happening during the 2016 election. It could all have been over and done with long ago, if she hadn’t concealed the existence of her private server for so long.
It definitely would have been over long ago if Clinton had used the State Department email system, as she was supposed to, making her correspondence promptly responsive to congressional inquiry and Freedom of Information Act requests. There is no doubt whatsoever that Clinton’s obfuscation tactics delayed this investigation for years, and it’s really just bad luck for her that she wasn’t able to delay it for one year longer, because it took just the right combination of document requests to force the State Department to admit it didn’t have her emails.
Clinton and her supporters are dreaming if they think they can make these investigations go away by ignoring them. For one thing, the cloud of suspicion over Clinton is hitting one of her biggest political vulnerabilities, the public perception of her dishonesty… at a moment when many American voters have grown disgusted with government dishonesty, incompetence, and corruption in general. Clinton’s email scandal is also a national-security debacle, in an hour of heightened public concern about terrorism. This was exactly the wrong moment to have precisely the scandal Clinton is having.
Former U.S. attorney DiGenova said he believes the FBI is close to issuing subpoenas in the Clinton corruption investigation. If that happens, it will be a bombshell the Clinton campaign would be hard-pressed to recover from, especially since she doubled down by denying the corruption probe exists at all. Even some of her hardcore supporters are likely to have their confidence shaken by subpoenas arriving a few days or weeks after Clinton tried to wave the whole affair off as a Faux News fantasy.
She’s rolling some very big dice by gambling that won’t happen, at least not until the Democrat primary is effectively over. (Democrat voters will surely become more willing to swallow their doubts about her when she’s irreversibly confirmed as their nominee for the presidency.)
Until now, Democrats (and more than a few cynical Republicans) have assumed the Justice Department will squash whatever indictments the FBI comes up with. Surely the FBI agents involved in the case (all 150 of them!) know that’s the likely outcome… unless they build a case so strong that not even Obama’s hyper-politicized DOJ can ignore their recommendations with impunity. It would beggar the imagination to believe anyone involved in probing Clinton’s email or corruption allegations views her as an ordinary subject. If there has ever been a “go big or go home” moment for the Bureau, this is it.
Look at it this way: even FBI agents who might feel some personal favor for Clinton and the Democrat Party know the results of their work are likely to influence the 2016 election, and the faith of the American people in their government. Clinton has tried to pass off her difficulties as a silly food fight with the intelligence community, but the intel people seem very serious indeed – and deeply worried about the dangerous precedent Clinton could be setting for control of sensitive material. It seems like a safe bet that everyone is bringing their A-game.
There are signs Democrats are starting to get nervous about Hillary Clinton. Lefty grassroots group MoveOn.org – whose very name is derived from their Nineties campaign to convince people to “move on” from Bill Clinton’s sexual harassment – just endorsed Bernie Sanders, in a 79-15 percent blowout over Hillary Clinton. A new poll has Sanders with a commanding lead over Clinton in New Hampshire, 53-39.
Sanders himself is starting to show a few signs of real fight, after ostentatiously rolling over for Clinton at the first Democrat debate. Even Joe Biden has taken to muttering that he really should have gotten into the race… not exactly a stirring demonstration of support for the designated successor to his President, whose nomination was supposed to be a coronation.
The usual election model has early-state insurgencies crashing and burning against establishment firewalls… but what if the Clinton investigations make too many Democrats nervous about taking the plunge with her, especially since all of the real enthusiasm in the party is behind Sanders? What if Sanders actually starts throwing punches at Clinton and uses whatever develops from the FBI investigation on the campaign trail?
Throw in the rolling Obama foreign-policy disaster that makes it tough for his former SecState to claim any achievements from her office, the looming possibility of bad economic news ahead, and Donald Trump’s surprisingly effective use of Bill Clinton to slap the “War on Women” card out of her hand, and there’s very little for Hillary Clinton to feel sanguine about.