Diane Dimond: Loretta Lynch must recuse herself on Clinton case
A federal-prosecutor friend wrote me recently and attached a news article with the headline, “Decision Time for FBI on Clinton.”
“Why does the media say stuff like this?” he asked. “The FBI has no say in this or any investigation.” And he went on to muse about how reporters just don’t seem to understand that the only entity that can make a decision on whether or not to indict Hillary Clinton for the way she (mis)handled her State Department emails is the office of the attorney general.
He’s right. The final decision is up to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
With that said, I figure it is time to talk about the elephant in the room. Elephant, is thy name partisan politics?
It will be Lynch who makes the ultimate decision about whether then-Secretary of State Clinton broke the law when she bypassed the government’s computer system and rerouted her emails through a nonsecure home server. And the clock is ticking on her conclusion.
The Democratic convention is about 10 weeks away, and it’s a given that the pressure is on to announce the decision to proceed with or drop the Clinton case before the party gathers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The FBI is reportedly wrapping up its final interviews with top Clinton staffers, and will soon send its findings to the attorney general’s office.
We would all like to believe that the nation’s top cop is above political motivations, but let’s take a look at Lynch’s background. She’s Harvard-educated, she worked as a litigator for a white-glove law firm in New York City, and in 1990, she became a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York. She rose in the ranks, and in 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the post of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Lynch was responsible for several high-profile prosecutions, and, by all accounts, she was terrific and tough in that post. In 2014, President Obama nominated her to come to Washington, D.C., to head the Department of Justice as attorney general of the United States. See a pattern there?
In these times of rough-and-tumble presidential campaigns, one should never discount the possibility of partisan politics rearing its ugly head. Realize that Lynch is being asked to decide the fate of the Democrat’s presumptive presidential nominee, the woman whose husband appointed her to a prestigious position in 1999. Furthermore, Lynch got her current high-profile job from another Democratic president who certainly does not want a Republican in the White House.
No matter what the nabobs say about a simmering feud between the Obamas and the Clintons, there is no way Obama wants to be even marginally responsible for a Republican taking his job. This is not to suggest the president has had a conversation with Lynch, or has sent word to her to go easy on Clinton. There need be no such conversation. Lynch knows what’s on the line. If she announces that she’s seeking an indictment or taking the case to a grand jury, Clinton’s years-long attempt to be president is in serious jeopardy.
It begs the questions: How tough is it to put personal allegiances aside when deciding a life-changing legal issue? Ask yourself, would you be able to go against people who had so significantly helped your career? Where does loyalty end and responsibility take over?
Back to my no-nonsense federal prosecutor friend. I asked what he thinks Lynch might do now that the State Department says classified information did indeed flow through Clinton’s home server.
“Classified info cannot be possessed anywhere but a secure government location,” he wrote. “I have no way of predicting what will happen but most of us in the field believe (Clinton) has (already) been given a silent, pre-emptive pardon.”
When I pressed him on that point, he responded, “Anyone else would have been locked up. (Then) the investigation would continue with that person in jail awaiting trial.”
Obviously that hasn’t happened. And Clinton has repeatedly denied she sent or received any classified material through her nonsecure server. Her camp maintains that the “classified” and “top secret” designations were slapped on the emails after-the-fact, when the State Department prepared the documents for public release.
It’s not just federal prosecutors who are watching how their boss handles this political hot potato. Journalists who know about conflict-of-interest ethics should be watching, too. I for one think Lynch should recuse herself and let someone with no connection to the Clintons or the White House make the decision.
The world is watching, and history will certainly make note of how Loretta Lynch handles it.