Bill Clinton was impeached for two causes — perjury and obstruction of justice. But the charges concerned a matter of personal conduct and were not deemed serious enough for Clinton to be removed from office, although he was disbarred by the state of Arkansas.
Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency before almost certain impeachment over his coverup of the Watergate break-in, a farcically useless burglary of Democratic headquarters in an election that the Republicans were already winning by a landslide.
Neither of these misdeeds, bad as they were, even remotely approach the magnitude of crimes for which Hillary Clinton is said by many to have committed.
The leading contender for the Democratic Party nomination is under investigation by the FBI on two basic tracks.
The first is for national security violations regarding her grossly negligent use of a private email server and unsecured BlackBerry (when traveling abroad!) for all her official business as secretary of state, including housing 22 emails on the server deemed so “top secret” that the State Department has refused to make them public. (There is much more, easily found on the Internet. Beyond even that, there is the matter of the erased hard drive with thirty thousand or so more emails of a self-described personal nature like “yoga lessons,” which many assume the FBI has recovered and whose contents are yet to be revealed.)
The second, perhaps even more serious, malfeasance is various crimes related to what is popularly known as influence-peddling performed by then-Secretary of State Clinton with foreign nationals and officials in connection with her multi-million, possibly billion, dollar family foundation. If true, for a normal citizen, conviction would likely result in multiple years in prison. David Petraeus has already suffered for similar, though lesser, crimes.
This is far and away the most important issue of election 2016. All others pale compared to it. How our government — FBI and DOJ — resolves this investigation will affect the very backbone of our country: the rule of law. No democratic society can exist without it. No person, no matter how high, can be above it. Without the rule of law, the United States of America as we know it does not exist.
So when I write that FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch have the whole country in their hands, I mean it. Whatever conclusions they come to, assuming they come to the same ones, somehow the vast majority of our citizens must be convinced they have reached those conclusions honorably, fairly and correctly. This won’t be easy, no matter what hints or leaks occur, but somehow that information must get out to every extent possible, because the public must be reassured. (Of course, if Clinton is indicted, a trial will go forward — unless she is pardoned.)
If Comey and Lynch do not come to the same conclusion, if the FBI director recommends prosecution and the attorney general demurs, it’s almost impossible to say what the result will be, except that it won’t be good. It’s already a foregone conclusion the disagreement would be leaked.
Most of all, anyone who cares about this country — and that should mean Republicans and Democrats — should not want a guilty Hillary Clinton in the White House. My greatest fear is that many of the Democrats would not or do not care, in which case our country is already in drastic, probably irreparable, free fall.
Although I was a registered Democrat at the time, I remember well that some courageous Republican leaders (notably Sen. Howard Baker) were among those most upset with Nixon and led the charge to get at the truth. (Some others, as we know, lied for him and ended up serving time).
As yet, I have not seen a single Democratic leader even ask a tough question of Mrs. Clinton, who has clearly lied to the public on these matters, if not under oath. (Some journalists have tip-toed around the issue with her, but not much more. And that includes Fox News — shame on them.) This is not only cowardice on the part of the Democrats. It’s extreme disloyalty to the country and to their fellow Americans. Even Bernie Sanders, her opponent, shrugs his shoulders at this serious issue of American national security, feigning that nobody’s interested when he knows that everybody is. What a creepy, disingenuous reaction for someone who portrays himself to be “above politics.”
Many Democrats laugh and ignore it all — after all, isn’t everyone corrupt, they seem to be saying. But they are laughing on the grave of our country, and theirs. Imagine this. Imagine it’s January 2017 and Hillary Clinton is being inaugurated as president with something close to half the public believing she should have been indicted. Imagine her first year in the White House with evidence of her culpability dribbling out from FBI agents and others. Some even start to go public with solid evidence. A bill of impeachment could come as early as the first one hundred days. Nothing like that has ever happened in the history of our nation. Short of nuclear war, it would be preoccupying our media every night. What would be the result? Wide-scale civil disobedience? A taxpayer rebellion? Worse?
What a catastrophe for the world at a time when American leadership is needed more than any time since World War II.
It’s in their hands. And if Barack Obama sticks his hands in this, he can forget about a legacy. You can call Donald Trump Mussolini if you want. But under those circumstances, he won’t hold a candle to Obama.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His next book – I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already – will be published by Encounter Books in June 2016.