Lock Her Up

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/05/10/lock-her-up/


The firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday creates an opportunity for a full investigation of the scandals of the Obama administration, and especially the scandals of Hillary Clinton.

When it comes to the former first lady, U.S. senator, and Secretary of State, America needs an airing. Something like a truth commission (akin to South Africa and Northern Ireland) is called for. Our system doesn’t allow for a formal offer of immunity to everybody who testifies, but the same sort of end result is needed:  a public acknowledgment of what happened and why.

Benghazi is probably the worst thing Clinton did as secretary of state, leaving Americans to die under attack unaided and then lying about why they died to their loved ones. It also probably yields no criminal charges — at least not the kind the U.S. government can pursue.

But the email scandal includes obvious crimes, which ought to get a full airing. Comey’s own public description last July of how Clinton compromised government secrets for her own convenience makes it clear that in his judgment she committed crimes — even if he chose not to describe them as crimes or recommend prosecution for them.

(Had he been particularly astute, he might have kept his mouth shut, recommended prosecution to the then-Attorney General quietly, stayed quiet while she did nothing, and then waited for the inevitable leaks.)

Indeed, Democrats are right to blame Comey for losing the presidency last November, but not for the right reasons. Had Comey done his job properly and recommended prosecution, the Democrats might have been able to dump Mrs. Clinton as their candidate, and possibly Joe Biden would be president now.

Some liberals reading this column are possibly cuffing the side of the computer screen with their hands while waiting for me to get to what the firing of Comey is “really” about — the alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the American presidential election. That doesn’t make sense, though — where is the smoking gun that Trump has to fear? Comey himself has said repeatedly the FBI doesn’t have one.

But by all means continue the investigations. Politically, parallel investigations of Hillary and other Obama-era matters (like Fast and Furious) would diffuse the effect of the Russia probe while we all wait for the details. I suspect the Obama administration investigations would yield pay dirt while the Russia investigation won’t. But no matter:  The truth is the truth, and we should all hear it, whatever it is.

One of the worst decisions President George W. Bush made was to suspend all investigations of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, when Bush took office in 2001.  The result is that we never got a complete professional investigation of the many non-Monica misdeeds of the Clinton Administration, and therefore many Americans now imagine that Bill Clinton was a good president.

President Donald Trump almost made the same mistake, when he signaled soon after he was elected that investigating Hillary Clinton was no longer a priority for him. She must be investigated, and her deeds must be described in public — preferably in writing.

Such a report would offer a deterrent to other public officials:  don’t do that or this could happen to you. It would also (justly) end Hillary’s political career once and for all — something that Democrats would benefit from more than Republicans, because it would allow Democrats to concentrate on viable candidates not rife with scandal.

The investigation would be uncomfortable, because it would likely suggest criminal prosecution of a former high-ranking federal official and famous person.

But it would also offer a chance for a masterstroke. Once the investigation is complete and the indictment is prepared, President Trump could swoop in at the last moment and pardon Hillary. He could thus continue the American tradition of refusing to criminalize our presidential politics (even when actual crimes are committed) and make Trump look magnanimous.