The timing of this particular announcement which was leaked out of the Justice Department today seems to be a bit much to write off to coincidence. The entire debacle of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private bathroom email server has become a flaming bag of doggy doo-doo on the doorstep of the administration and I’m guessing that the endless drumbeat of public outrage is finally sinking in. The tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and our Attorney General this week was likely the last straw and now Loretta Lynch has signaled that she will accept the recommendations of the FBI on the matter when James Comey finishes his work. (New York Times)
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch plans to announce on Friday that she will accept whatever recommendation career prosecutors and the F.B.I. director make about whether to bring charges related to Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, a Justice Department official said. Her decision removes the possibility that a political appointee will overrule investigators in the case.
The Justice Department had been moving toward such an arrangement for months — officials said in April that it was being considered — but a private meeting between Ms. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton this week set off a political furor and made the decision all but inevitable.
Republicans said the meeting, which took place at the Phoenix airport, had compromised the independence of the investigation as the F.B.I. was winding it down. Some called for Ms. Lynch to recuse herself, but she did not take herself off the case — one that could influence a presidential election.
This is being confirmed in multiple sources, so it looks like a done deal and we should have a formal announcement later today. Clearly there’s something going on behind the scenes, so allow me to speculate on two possible scenarios.
The first option is to conclude that this is actually good news and public pressure has prevailed over politics as usual. If the FBI turns over a report saying that Clinton should be indicted, we might assume that the Justice Department will move forward. This would be a welcome decision, particularly considering the fact that the last time the DoJ received a recommendation (that time from the Inspector General) to prosecute someone on Clinton’s team – Huma Abedin’s embezzlement charges in that case – they tossed the case in the trash. Perhaps they don’t want even more appearances of impropriety haunting their steps going into an election.
The reason I said “might” in the previous paragraph is that Lynch still seems to be parsing her words very carefully. You’ll note that the preview of her comments very specifically says that she will be accepting the decision of, “career prosecutors and the F.B.I. director.” Not only is she not taking her department out of the loop and appointing a special prosecutor, but she’s not 100% accepting the call of the FBI either. There are no “career prosecutors” on James Comey’s team. Those prosecutors all work for Lynch in the Justice Department. From the beginning she’s been saying that it would be those “professionals” who would decide the merits of the case, so this may be nothing other than window dressing to appease the voters outraged by the meeting with Bill Clinton while sticking with business as usual.
But there’s a second possibility as well and I’m just going to toss it out there. It’s been leaked from multiple sources that the FBI investigation is winding down and Comey is close to wrapping this thing up. Very likely the final decision has already been made and he’s just making sure all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed before handing over his work. What are the chances that Lynch doesn’t know what the decision is at this point? In fact, I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if that was part of the conversation she had with Bill Clinton. (Yes… I’m basically saying that they’re lying about the meeting. If you can ever prove me wrong I’ll be happy to apologize.) What if Comey has already decided to pull the rip cord and recommend no formal charges against Hillary Clinton because the firestorm resulting from a call to prosecute would just be too hot for him? Then Lynch and the President are in the clear. She can simply claim that she was leaving it up to Comey all along and the entire unpleasant affair drops down the memory hole.
Conspiracy theory? Sure. But as far as I’m concerned it certainly passes the smell test, and I wouldn’t put it past this crew in the least.