Belmont Club

An Unscheduled Change In 2016 Candidates

ABC News reports that a “‘fired up’ President Barack Obama took the stage in North Carolina today to stump for his onetime political rival Hillary Clinton, being greeted by the crowed with thunderous applause and saying no one has been ‘more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton.'”

Clinton, fresh off the news that the FBI didn’t recommend charges against her for using a private email server for government correspondence when she was secretary of state, took the stage first to chants of “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary.” She said she has known Obama in many roles and called him “a friend.”

Obama’s encomium took on the overtones of irony.  The FBI’s simultaneous admission of Hillary’s negligence and their inability to bring charges against it dismayed many observers.  James Comey said with a faint air of resignation “although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. … To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”

What they were deciding was whether they could make it stick against Hillary and the conclusion was that they couldn’t.

Andrew McCarthy a former prosecutor wrote that “in essence, in order to give Mrs. Clinton a pass, the FBI rewrote the statute, inserting an intent element that Congress did not require. The added intent element, moreover, makes no sense: The point of having a statute that criminalizes gross negligence is to underscore that government officials have a special obligation to safeguard national defense secrets; when they fail to carry out that obligation due to gross negligence, they are guilty of serious wrongdoing. The lack of intent to harm our country is irrelevant.”

Rewrote it at the behest of whom?  And to what ultimate effect?  Whether or not they are irrelevant is the issue which now intrudes into what was already an extraordinary presidential race. Just as Brexit came to be about British independence rather than foreign policy, the FBI decision not to prosecute Hillary may, for some voters, change 2016 from a presidential contest to a referendum on the rule of law.  It may no longer be about Trump vs Hillary but the Proles vs the Party.

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