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Did Obama Telegraph A "Get Out Of Jail Free" Card For Hillary On National Television?

We’ve long been skeptical of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. Not because we necessarily think it’s inconsequential and not because we think it should be summarily dismissed as just another example of partisan politics (although there’s clearly some of that at play). 

Rather, we simply want to know if Clinton is going to be held accountable. 

That is, there’s certainly something to be said for drawing attention to the dishonesty and arrogance that unquestionably pervades American politics and to the extent that helps voters make an informed decision, it’s a boon for the democratic process, but if at the end of the day, Clinton is just going to get a pass because she’s a Clinton, then nothing here has changed and the entire spectacle will have been largely for naught. 

If you’re going to go after a member of America’s political aristocracy you have to be serious about it and make it more than a prolonged effort to embarrass and discredit the accused, because at the end of the day, powerful politicians recover from reputational damage. They always have and they always will. 

But if someone were to actually bring charges or make a serious attempt to attach consequences to possibly illegal actions, well then the entire calculus would change for those who feel that being inside the Beltway provides a certain degree of immunity. 

If you were holding your breath to see if Hillary would be a test case for a new approach to prosecuting powerful politicians, you might want to exhale before you turn blue because as The New York Times notes, President Obama might have telegraphed a “get out of jail free” card. Here’s more: 

Federal agents were still cataloging the classified information fromHillary Rodham Clinton’s personal email server last week when President Obama went on television and played down the matter.

 

“I don’t think it posed a national security problem,” Mr. Obama said Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” He said it was a mistake for Mrs. Clinton to use a private email account when she was secretary of state, but his conclusion was unmistakable: “This is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”

 

Those statements angered F.B.I. agents who have been working for months to determine whether Ms. Clinton’s email setup had in fact put any of the nation’s secrets at risk, according to current and former law enforcement officials.

 

Investigators have not reached any conclusions about whether the information on the server had been compromised or whether to recommend charges, according to the law enforcement officials. But to investigators, it sounded as if Mr. Obama had already decided the answers to their questions and cleared anyone involved of wrongdoing.

 

A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment. But Ron Hosko, a former senior F.B.I. official who retired in 2014 and is now the president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, said it was inappropriate for the president to “suggest what side of the investigation he is on” when the F.B.I. is still investigating.

 

“Injecting politics into what is supposed to be a fact-finding inquiry leaves a foul taste in the F.B.I.’s mouth and makes them fear that no matter what they find, the Justice Department will take the president’s signal and not bring a case,” said Mr. Hosko, who maintains close contact with current agents.

And this wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. 

Tensions among career F.B.I. agents, the political appointees who run the Justice Department and the White House are commonplace. In deciding whether to bring charges in a case, F.B.I. agents are often more bullish. Prosecutors, with an eye toward trying to win at trial, tend to be more cautious and have the final say. As such, no administration, Democratic or Republican, is immune from the suspicion that politics has influenced case decisions.

 

But Mr. Obama’s remarks in the Clinton email case were met with particular anger at the F.B.I. because they echoed comments he made in 2012, shortly after it was revealed that a former C.I.A. director, David H. Petraeus, was under investigation, accused of providing classified information to a mistress who was writing a book about him.

 

“I have no evidence at this point, from what I’ve seen, that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security,” the president said at a 2012 news conference, as the F.B.I. was trying to answer that very question about Mr. Petraeus.

 

The F.B.I. ultimately concluded that Mr. Petraeus should face felony charges and a possible prison sentence.

 

But the Justice Department overruled the F.B.I., and earlier this year the department allowed Mr. Petraeus to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. He was spared jail time and remained an informal White House adviser.

That was David Patraeus.

This is Hillary Clinton.

Draw your own conclusions as to how this will likely end.