What Would Bush Do?

FBI Director James Comey appeared on Capital Hill yesterday, at the behest of congressional Republicans, and testified as to Hillary Clinton’s lack of veracity in her own congressional testimony some months earlier. In response to pointed questions from Rep. Trey Gowdy, Mr. Comey indicated that Mrs. Clinton had misrepresented the facts numerous times regarding the handling of her official State Department emails.

So now, there are calls for a perjury investigation, and one anticipates a congressional referral of the matter to the FBI. Meanwhile, the State Department re-opens its own investigation of the Clinton emails. The response from congressional Democrats is to downplay the controversy and attempt to change the subject. And we are left with a hyper-partisan mess. In short, the matter is far from over, both legally and politically. So, how might this have been avoided?

An answer is found in the example of former President George W. Bush, during the CIA leak scandal, known as Plamegate.  When Plamegate erupted in 2003, then President Bush called for the naming of a special prosecutor, and Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed to lead an independent investigation into the matter. This allowed a thorough (some would say overly thorough, but that’s another matter) inquiry to take place, independent of the FBI and U.S. Justice Department, freed from suspicion of any untoward influence by the Bush Administration.

President Barack Obama could have chosen a similar route by calling for a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. But he didn’t.

As with every other scandal during his presidential tenure, Mr. Obama left this matter squarely within the realm of political influence. Such influence surfaced most recently in a private meeting, off the record and intensely inappropriate, between Hillary Clinton’s husband, the former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, on an airport tarmac in Phoenix, Arizona. Only days later, Mr. Comey’s formal recommendation followed, that no criminal charges be brought against Mrs. Clinton, a recommendation quickly accepted by Attorney General Lynch.

All of it highly suspect, hyper-partisan, tainted. Such is Mr. Obama’s legacy.

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