How much longer is James Comey of the FBI going to be investigating Hillary Clinton and, more to the point, is she going to be charged with anything or what? That’s the exact question being asked by Charles Gasparino at the New York Post this week and he’s been talking to some folks who at least have an inkling of the likely answers. It’s clearly been a long and laborious task to gather all the relevant information, but surely it’s got to be coming to an end soon. So what happens next? Gasparino reports that some of the FBI’s agents have been talking out of school and the word on the street is that Comey’s hands may be tied and he’s not happy about it.

FBI chief James Comey and his investigators are increasingly certain that presidential nominee Hillary Clinton violated laws in handling classified government information through her private email server, career agents say.

Some expect him to push for charges, but he faces a formidable obstacle: the political types in the Obama White House who view a Clinton presidency as a third Obama term.

With that, agents have been spreading the word, largely through associates in the private sector, that their boss is getting stonewalled, despite uncovering compelling evidence that Clinton broke the law.

I’ve expressed my own skepticism here in the past over the question of whether this case would ever see the light of day beyond the investigation phase and the reasons are pretty much in line with what’s being expressed by the agents who are willing to talk. How will that sit with Comey? He’s a guy who has previously shown that he’s not afraid of cooking up some sacred cows when the law has been broken. But he’s facing a daunting mountain to climb if he wants to take on the Clintons, and what would happen if his recommendations are ignored? Rumor has it that he might just walk away.

Indeed, many law enforcement officials who know the FBI chief and the bureau’s inner workings believe the evidence would have to be overwhelming for Comey to even recommend charges, much less for DOJ to pursue them.

Still, some FBI staffers suggest the probe’s at a point where Comey might quit in protest if Justice ignores a recommendation to pursue a criminal case against Clinton.

This raises an interesting aspect of the question which I hadn’t really considered before. We’ve already discussed the fact that the Justice Department has tossed previous cases relating to Clinton’s inner circle into the circular file. (See: Abedin, Huma.) There’s no reason to believe that the current Attorney General isn’t ready to do the same with any potential charges leveled directly at the former Secretary of State. But how does that process involve Comey and is anyone already talking to him about it?

Let’s assume for the moment that Comey is close to finishing his work and is sitting on a case which he feels merits prosecution. As Gasparino points out, this is not an unlikely scenario. You don’t start handing out immunity to people in exchange for testimony if you haven’t concluded that there’s something they would need immunity from. But how does he know how well the recommendation will be received if he turns it over to Loretta Lynch? Does anyone pull him aside privately and tell him that in advance? That sounds like a risky maneuver on the part of the Justice Department because if Comey becomes too upset and turns in his badge he might just be vindictive enough to start telling all sorts of tales to the press after he leaves.

But if he’s not been given any sort of signals over this, what happens if he turns the case over for prosecution and the White House makes sure it gets squashed? That essentially invalidates his work and looks like a slap in the face. He might just walk away in that case too. As unlikely as it sounds to me, Comey could be the fly in the ointment which really leaves Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama between a rock and a hard place.