The prolonged FBI investigation surrounding Hillary Clinton’s private server appears to be nearing its conclusion with reports early on Saturday suggesting that the Democratic presumptive nominee sat down with investigators for an interview that lasted more than three and a half hours.
This particular meeting had long been touted as inevitable in a series of meeting and dispositions the FBI has conducted with Hillary Clinton’s top aides over the course of the last few months, while the timing of the interview — 23 days before the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Philadelphia — has led legal experts to believe that FBI’s director, James Comey, is committed to concluding the investigation before Clinton is officially made the Democratic nominee.
And although that assumption appears to be fairly accurate in light of the recent developments, the fact is that we are still no closer to knowing if the FBI plans to press charges against Hillary Clinton for knowingly skirting federal procedures during her time as the Secretary of State.
Nevertheless, there have been various hints along the way which could tell us the direction in which the FBI investigation is headed, and what it could mean to Hillary Clinton and her chances in the presidential race.
According to The Washington Post, the next two weeks will be hugely important for Hillary Clinton because the FBI could make the findings of their investigation public before the convention. It is a point which has often been brought up by Clinton’s political rivals and even a major section of Democrats, who, for obvious reasons, would not want to choose a nominee who could still be indicted after the winning the nomination.
“There has long been an assumption in political circles that the FBI would need to interview Clinton and make public the findings of their investigation before the convention. The reason? If Clinton was indicted for her role in creating and maintaining her private email server, she would almost certainly be forced to leave the race. Nominating someone still under an FBI investigation seemed like a massive risk.”
Even if the FBI decides not to press charges against the Democratic presumptive nominee, even a slap on Clinton’s wrist where the Justice Department implies that Hillary Clinton willingly violated federal procedures, could also hugely complicate her chances in the presidential race.
Moreover, if such findings were released days before the Democratic Convention, it could create a negative momentum which would make it almost impossible for Clinton to recover, and it could possibly be one of the reasons that Vermont Senator is still not endorsing the presumptive nominee.
“Why does all of that matter? Because — as any Bernie Sanders supporter will tell you — Clinton doesn’t have 2,383 pledged delegates: She has 2,220. This means she needs unpledged superdelegates to put her over the top. If there are major doubts about Clinton’s ability to win in November, there could well be a major move of superdelegates away from her.”
Even so, it is unlikely that the upper echelons of the Democratic Party would approve of Bernie Sanders’ nomination in the above scenarios. Considering he has forever campaigned against establishment politics, the Democratic Party would still try and replace Clinton with someone more aligned to the party’s platform, including Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Cuomo, Deval Patrick, or even Joe Biden.
It must be noted that even in the case of an indictment, Hillary Clinton is not bound to step down as the presumptive nominee. As Snopes noted in its report, critics hoping that an indictment would automatically disqualify Hillary Clinton from the presidential race are gravely mistaken, but such a recommendation by the FBI would nevertheless certainly create a political storm which could engulf Clinton.
“The only eligibility requirements for serving as President, as stated in the Constitution, are that a candidate must be a natural-born citizen at least 35 years of age who has lived in the U.S. for at least the last 14 years, and Hillary Clinton meets all those requirements. There is no regulation that disqualifies a presidential candidate who has been (prior to assuming the presidency) accused of a crime, convicted of a crime, or even incarcerated for a crime. In 1920, in fact, Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs ran for President from a federal penitentiary (where he had been incarcerated for urging resistance to the military draft) and still received over 900,000 votes.”
But all of these points would be moot if the the FBI was to submit a report which does not find Hillary Clinton guilty of committing any crime. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who came for a lot of stick last week for her “impromptu” meeting with Bill Clinton, has said that she would be willing to “accept” whatever recommendations the FBI — under Comey — makes to the AG’s office. However, that announcement, coupled with the completely uncalled for meeting between Bill Clinton and Lynch, has raised credible doubts about the Barack Obama-led administration to efficiently, and truthfully, mete out the treatment that Clinton deserves for her alleged misuse of a “homebrew” private server.
Moreover, Hillary Clinton appeared pretty confident in her first interview after the meeting with FBI investigators, playing down the significance of the investigation to merely a “review” which she is helping draw to a conclusion. While that could be interpreted as Clinton’s confidence that the FBI investigation would, somehow, not lead to an indictment, it is also equally consistent with her previous defenses, in which she has repeatedly termed the FBI investigation as a “security review.”
Some sources close to the investigation have told media organizations, including CNN, that an indictment is not in the cards for Hillary Clinton. But, even if the FBI does not intend to press charges, a hard slap on Clinton’s wrist could disrupt her presidential dream in a major way.
The question, then, becomes this: who would be best positioned to take advantage of any red flags that might unearth themselves in FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private server?
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]