With the publication of the State Department inspector general’s extraordinarily damning report on Hillary Clinton’s private email server, we’re going to find out if Bernie Sanders really wants to be president or if his campaign has merely been an academic exercise in socialism promotion.
Donald Trump will certainly be able to use the report to wound Clinton and has already started, but Sanders is now in a position to use it to actually take her down. Right now, before the California primary.
But will he?
So far Bernie has been reluctant to speak about the emails – except once to the Wall Street Journal months ago — instead taking the position that such scandals were beneath him and that the American people were interested in more “serious” matters like climate change and the supposedly unspeakable evils of Wall Street.
Of course, this was nothing more than the standard political spin by a man who feigns he is above such things. The email scandal is about critical matters like national security and the rule of law and Bernie knows it.
The Vermont senator was playing a waiting game, holding his fire until the FBI indicted or something else happened to hand him the nomination. Well, it has. Even the New York Times is starting to panic.
The State Department’s inspector general has sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, saying she had not sought permission to use it and would not have received it if she had.
[The IG report] also added new detail about Mrs. Clinton’s motivation for using the private server, which she has said was set up for convenience. In November 2010, her deputy chief of staff for operations prodded her about “putting you on state email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam.” Mrs. Clinton, however, replied that she would consider a separate address or device “but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”
The great Andy McCarthy analyzes the report more closely, examining the crucial question of criminality:
“Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary,” the report states. By failing to do so, and compounding that dereliction with a failure to “surrender all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service,” Clinton, the IG finds, “did not comply with the Department’s policies.”
This articulation of Mrs. Clinton’s offense is also sugar-coated. By saying Clinton violated “policies,” the IG avoids concluding that she violated the law. But the IG adds enough that we can connect the dots ourselves. The “policies,” he elaborates, “were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.” To violate the policies — as Shannen Coffin has explained here at National Review — is to violate the law.
So the ball is now in Bernie’s court. Does he move now before that crucial California primary or wait for the FBI? A candidate who really wants the nomination would do the former. As the old saw goes, he who hesitates is lost. In this case, that loss could come in a number of forms — the nomination of Joe Biden or John Kerry, a Hillary indictment that arrives after the Democratic convention (too late for Sanders), a recommended Hillary indictment that is deferred by the attorney general until after the convention (again too late for Sanders) and on and on.
It’s up to Bernie.
But I have to say I hope he goes for it — and indeed right now in time for California. I want a Trump-Sanders election, capitalism versus socialism, America’s final showdown. Bring it on.
Roger L. Simon is a prize-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 on June 14, 2016. You can read an excerpt here. You can pre-order the book here.