In one fell swoop Oct. 28, Hillary Clinton’s political legacy went from career politician on the cusp of a historical ascendancy, to potentially history’s first presidential asterisk.
It took FBI Director James Comey just minutes to change Hillary’s 30-year trajectory. If she is elected, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s distinction as the first female president will almost certainly be accompanied by an asterisk noting she is also the first presidential candidate ever to assume office while under federal criminal investigation.
“You will have no honeymoon,” University of Virginia law professor Saikrishna Prakash told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “You will have people who think that a criminal got into the White House again.”
The Clinton campaign responded to Comey’s bombshell by demanding the FBI turn over everything it has immediately — obviously wanting to end the matter as soon as possible. But in all likelihood, the investigation will take months to complete, which would cast a massive shadow over her presidency regardless of whether the FBI turns up anything new.
Even if the outcome of the election isn’t a given, the prospect raises a host of amazing possibilities. Would Hillary command the FBI to stop the investigation? Fire Comey? Or would she let it play out and risk damaging findings? How would she work with Republicans in Congress who will almost certainly launch separate investigations and hold hearings on the matter? Would she resign if she is indicted? Would President Obama pardon her, or would she somehow pardon herself?
[dcquiz] “We’re in uncharted territory,” Prakash told TheDCNF. “I don’t know how people can make any conclusions about what will happen. I think they’re trying to convince themselves everything’s going to be fine, or that their candidate ought to prevail given this new fact.”
Indeed, while Republican nominee Donald Trump is jubilantly declaring Comey forgiven for his earlier decision, Clinton’s allies and surrogates are busy spinning the news as a nothing-burger with absolutely no chance of leading to anything substantial.
“No legitimate prosecutor would ever bring charges against anyone for not understanding fully what the ever-changing rules were regarding emails,” retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told TheDCNF. “So there’s no reasonable possibility there will ever be an indictment in this case.”
“You’d have to have the Petraeus intent,” he added, referring to Army Gen. David Petraeus, who was caught intentionally sharing classified information in a manner he knew was against the law with a journalist intending to disseminate. “Petraeus deliberately intended — you’re just not going to find anything like that here.”
Nevertheless, the FBI is digging through 650,000 previously undiscovered emails. A Republican-led House would likely have a field day with its own hearings and investigations should she become president, and the possibility that Comey finds something that causes him to recommend charges will remain, however slight, until the investigation is complete.
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