Clinton’s Laughable Claim: Petraeus Offense Was Worse

Last week’s Washington Post bombshell, the news that the Justice Department has given immunity from prosecution to the former State Department staffer who maintained Hillary Clinton’s “homebrew” email server, is forcing Mrs. Clinton and her apologists to alter their media strategy.

For months it has been obvious that a serious criminal investigation of the former secretary of State’s reckless mishandling of classified information has been underway. Yet Camp Clinton has maintained that the government is merely engaged in a “security inquiry” that is focused on the physical server itself -- not a probe of criminal suspects. This has never made sense. The FBI, which has assigned many agents to the case, is in the criminal investigation business.

Plus, when the now-immunized former staffer, Bryan Pagliano, invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege in refusing to testify before the House Benghazi committee, it signaled that he feared truthful answers would incriminate him.

Now with Pagliano apparently poised to cooperate with the FBI, the claim that Mrs. Clinton is not a criminal suspect is untenable. So Clinton and her supporters are changing tack: instead of implausibly insisting there is no crime to investigate, they argue that there is no crime worth prosecuting.

This narrative was first floated a few months ago. The story goes like this: retired General David Petraeus, the former CIA director, committed a classified information offense that -- according to Clintonistas -- was far more serious than Mrs. Clinton’s conduct, yet Petraeus was permitted to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor count. Ergo, a prosecution of Mrs. Clinton over her comparatively minor misconduct cannot be justified.

When Camp Clinton first began spinning its Petraeus yarn, I explained that it relies on Anne M. Tompkins, the former U.S. attorney for western North Carolina who oversaw the prosecution against the general. Tompkins, who just happens to be a Hillary Clinton donor, exploits the aura of authority from her obvious familiarity with the Petraeus case to suggest that she is a reliable source on Clinton case -- which she dutifully portrays as weak. To note just the most obvious problems with her analysis: even when she worked for the government (which she no longer does), Tompkins never had anything to do with the Clinton investigation; and she can’t possibly know the full extent of the FBI’s evidence because the probe is ongoing and, quite properly, the FBI is not commenting publicly.