Despite what appears increasingly to be incontrovertible evidence that she seriously mishandled classified material as Secretary of State, many of us fear we will not see justice served for Hillary Clinton, for largely political reasons. She is, after all, a Clinton.
Many have predicted and feared that even if the FBI recommends indictment, President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ), under Loretta Lynch, will choose to take care of their own — a fellow Democrat, the Democrat’s best hope at this point for the next president, no less — and let Clinton off. And that would be a travesty indeed.
But even if that does happen — or if the DOJ drags its feet past election day — there’s another scenario that could still ultimately force justice to be served in this dangerous violation of our nation’s security. Sources familiar with FBI Director James Comey’s history and character suggest in such a scenario, the FBI director is likely to resign in protest — and take other high-level FBI officials with him.
Ken Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia, knows the laws regarding classified information firsthand. In his private practice, Cuccinelli defended a Marine lieutenant colonel court martialed on charges of possessing such information outside a secure facility. He says Clinton’s actions in the e-mail scandal clearly satisfy all five requirements necessary to sustain charges of mishandling classified material, and constitute a breach perhaps even more glaring than the one for which General David Petraeus was convicted.
As FBI Director, Comey was completely in the loop on the decision to bring charges against Petraeus, so Clinton’s case is familiar territory for him. Cuccinelli says that if the FBI’s handling of Petraeus is any guide, Comey’s agents are likely to recommend a Clinton indictment to the Department of Justice.
Then, the issue becomes really high-stakes.
There is no time limit on how long Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the DOJ can take in reviewing the FBI’s recommendation and the evidence on which it’s based. But if the Department of Justice gives the signal that they’re going to ignore the FBI’s investigations, or drag out their own review past election day, Cuccinelli — along with Judge Andrew Napolitano, Roger Stone, Charles Krauthammer, and other observers — predicts that Comey will resign in protest, and other high-level FBI officials could follow him out the door.
Not many people remember that Comey almost resigned a high-profile law-enforcement job once before, upset because he thought White House politics were overruling the law. Back in 2004, Comey was Attorney General John Ashcroft’s top deputy. The Justice Department determined that the Bush administration’s domestic-surveillance program, run by the National Security Agency, was illegal. Ashcroft was hospitalized at the time with a pancreatic ailment, and his authority had been transferred to Comey during the hospitalization. Then–White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and President Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., went to the hospital to persuade Ashcroft to re-authorize the program. Comey and then–FBI director Robert Mueller raced to the hospital to lobby Ashcroft against signing the authorization papers.
Ultimately, Bush agreed with the Justice Department’s assessment and scrapped the program. Comey later told Congress that he, Ashcroft, Mueller, and their aides had prepared a mass resignation in case the White House ignored or defied their legal assessment.
In short, Comey’s been willing to defy a White House before, as Obama acknowledged in announcing his nomination to head the FBI:
To know Jim Comey is also to know his fierce independence and his deep integrity. Like Bob [Mueller], he’s that rarity in Washington sometimes — he doesn’t care about politics; he only cares about getting the job done. At key moments, when it’s mattered most, he joined Bob in standing up for what he believed was right. He was prepared to give up a job he loved rather than be part of something he felt was fundamentally wrong.
Is Comey still prepared to give up the job rather than be part of something he feels is fundamentally wrong? If, as those who know him suspect, it will much harder for the Department of Justice to ignore what his bureau has to say about Clinton’s dangerous misconduct.
It’s certainly not the preferred way to go about delivering justice; wouldn’t it be much better if we had leaders and government officials whose commitment to truth and justice, not to mention the very security of our nation — trumps political considerations? But if that can’t be relied upon, it is indeed encouraging and refreshing to know there are at least a few individuals in Washington, such as Director Comey, who still act independently and with integrity — with the primary goal of getting the job done for the American people they serve.
How many of those running for president — and let’s open up the inquiry to both the Democrat and GOP side of the field — can we trust to do the same thing?
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]