We the people

By John Ubaldi

With all the twists and turns this presidential race has seen, nothing compares to the political bombshell that went off last Friday. In a letter to Congress, FBI Director James Comey announced that the Bureau had re-opened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

The decision came after emails possibly pertinent to the investigation were found on a computer belonging to former N.Y. Congressman Anthony Weiner. Weiner’s estranged wife, Huma Abedin, is a close Clinton advisor.

The investigation of Weiner’s laptop stemmed from his alleged exchange of sexually explicit text messages with a 15-year-old girl. In the process, FBI agents discovered thousands of emails between Clinton and Abedin, prompting the FBI to re-open the Clinton email case.

Comey announced the existence of these emails in his letter to Congress. He stated, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this, and I agree that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

Comey cautioned the lawmakers that “the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work.” Comey’s decision, however, means the criminal investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server will likely continue well past the election and into her presidency – if she prevails on Nov. 8.

New Email Investigation Could Have Disastrous Effects on Clinton Presidency

The new Clinton federal criminal investigation could usher in a constitutional crisis. This kind of crisis has not been seen since the 1972 Watergate scandal, which forced the resignation of former President Richard Nixon.

The Electoral College favors a Clinton victory. But if Clinton wins, it would be the first time in U.S. history that a president-elect would be facing a criminal investigation while preparing to take the oath of office. Clinton’s presidency could be crippled from the start, with its focus centered on a federal criminal investigation.

No one knows what is in the over 600,000 emails in the possession of the FBI. Do they include the more than 30,000 missing emails and do they contain classified material? Do the emails show a co-mingling of the Clinton Foundation with her tenure at the State Department? Who else in the federal government is implicated in the email scandal and does it reach the White House?

Was the President Involved in Clinton’s Email Scandal?

In September, the FBI released a batch of documents from its investigation. The documents showed that President Obama used a pseudonym when he communicated by email with Clinton.

The Obama administration acknowledged that Obama and Clinton emailed each other while she served as secretary of state. So, did Obama and Clinton exchange classified emails on an unclassified account?

Recent revelations by WikiLeaks into the hacked emails of top Clinton advisor John Podesta showed deep concern regarding the president’s statements when he learned of Clinton’s email practices.

Now with the continued investigation by the FBI into Clinton’s email server, its continued investigation of corruption at the Clinton Foundation, its impact on the Obama administration, what did the FBI find, and how does it affect a potential Clinton administration and President Obama’s legacy?

Will the Department of Justice Indict Clinton?

What happens once the FBI concludes its investigation and recommends that the Justice Department bring charges against Clinton? What does Attorney General Loretta Lynch do?

Remember that Lynch complicated matters in June when she met with former president Bill Clinton on the airport tarmac in Phoenix. She termed the meeting just “social,” with no discussion of the investigation.

After the story broke, the New York Times reported that Lynch said she will accept “whatever recommendation career prosecutors and the FBI director make about whether to bring charges in the case.”

A Constitutional Crisis in the Making

This is where the possibility of a constitutional crisis arises. Would Lynch appoint a special prosecutor to investigate President-elect Clinton for the email server scandal? Would Lynch investigate the Clinton Foundation’s possible ties to the State Department while Clinton served as secretary of state?

On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that in September, FBI agents on the foundation case asked to see the emails contained on non-government laptops that were searched as part of the Clinton email case. Prosecutors at the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn rejected the request.

Those emails were eventually given to the FBI based on grants of partial immunity and limited-use agreements. These restrictions mean that agents could only use them for the purpose of investigating possible mishandling of classified information.

Agents also asked permission to make a request to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, but were denied. Ironically, this is the same United States Attorney’s office headed by Loretta Lynch before President Obama elevated her to the position of Attorney General.

During the FBI’s investigation, the Justice Department refused to authorize the use of a grand jury to further the investigation. That refusal limits the ability of agents to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.

Collaboration between the Justice Department and Clinton

The latest WikiLeaks data dump revealed that in May 2015 a senior Justice official tipped off Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta about potential developments in the Clinton email case. This was prior to a congressional hearing on the matter.

Politico reported that in May of 2015, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik emailed Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta to tell him about potential developments at an impending congressional hearing. Podesta also mentioned a new development in a Freedom of Information Act request for Clinton’s State Department emails.

Continuing, in an email from Kadzik’s personal account titled “Heads up,” he wrote: “There is a

[House Judiciary Committee] oversight hearing today where the head of our Civil Division will testify. Likely to get questions on State Department emails. Another filing in the FOIA case went in last night or will go in this a.m. that indicates it will be awhile (2016) before the State Department posts the emails.”

Podesta, who has a longstanding friendship with Kadzik, forwarded the information to Clinton’s top advisors.

Is History a Guide to Clinton’s Future?

If one looks back in history, one of the final acts that brought down Nixon was his firing of independent prosecutor Archibald Cox and the subsequent resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckselshaus. All three refused to do the president’s bidding in violation of the Constitution they swore to uphold. We may be witnessing a constitutional crisis in the making if Clinton wins on Tuesday.  If she does win, does Loretta Lynch stay on as Attorney General?

More than likely, Clinton would retain Lynch’s services in that letting her go would initiate a confirmation hearing that would likely turn into a media circus.

No matter how the election ends, it looks like the House of Representatives will remain in Republican control. It appears likely that investigations and hearings into the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s use of a private server to conduct government business will continue.

Will Congress Impeach Clinton if she’s Elected?

The only two presidents who have faced impeachment were Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both times, the Senate failed to convict them. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before impeachment charges could be brought against him.

Depending on what the FBI discovers and its recommendations for action, the House of Representatives could invoke Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. This article states that “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

If a Clinton impeachment occurs, the United States will indeed be thrown into a constitutional crisis.