There are now two troubling stories about Hillary Clinton’s ethics and conflicts of interest. In the first, more widely reported story, Hillary Clinton ran a private email server from her home that contained classified information susceptible to foreign hacking. Contrary to her public statements, Hillary Clinton’s server did contain information that was classified at the time of receipt or transmission.
On top of that, Hillary Clinton is under the impression that the FBI says she did nothing wrong. That is not at all what the FBI said, but for reasons that only the most partisan Democrats can fathom, the FBI and Department of Justice have decided to do nothing. The FBI Director, James Comey, largely admitted that they are taking this action because Hillary Clinton’s husband is a former President and she is a major party nominee for President.
Now the Associated Press is reporting that more than half of those who met with Mrs. Clinton while Secretary of State contributed to the Clinton Foundation. The Republican talking point here is somewhat complicated by their nominee also being a donor, but to my knowledge he had no pending business before the Secretary of State.
There has long been a suspicion of the Clintons making money off those who had business before the State Department. At a minimum it seems like a glaring conflict of interest. The cross over between the Foundation and State Department work of Huma Abedin raises numerous concerns that transcend partisan politics.
Americans increasingly distrust Washington, D.C. They see Washington protecting its own. They see President Obama and his administration protecting their preferred interests and the Republicans doing the same. Americans increasingly are cynical of their government and justice system.
As Americans more and more come to the conclusion that the justice system is skewed toward the powerful, they will respect that system less and less. Right now, Americans of both parties, independents, and Americans across the ideological spectrum believe there was something highly irregular about Hillary Clinton’s emails. Likewise, this new report of potential conflicts of interest at the State Department will only amplify those concerns.
The Department of Justice cannot, or at least should not, be seen as a partisan vehicle administering justice only to political opponents of the President. But more and more it seems that way. And we know that neither party is ever willing to step back. A Democrat administration willing to turn a blind eye to its powerful members’ potential corruption and criminal activity will only embolden the next Republican administration to keep the same precedent. The public’s trust in the system, already in a fragile state, will further erode.
There is not much distance between the public’s present trust of the system and rock bottom. At that point, we do risk a discredited system where people neither respect institutions nor adhere to the decrees of those institutions unless caught and punished.
President Obama owes it to the American people to see that justice is done, even to the rich and powerful and well connected. That includes Hillary Clinton. Further, where the perception of injustice and bias exist within our system, the President owes it as an obligation of stewardship in office to rebut that perception, lest that perception become viewed as a fact by American citizens.
We need a special prosecutor to remove the stench of partisan protection from these growing, serious news stories. Only an independent prosecutor will be able to restore the peoples’ trust in the institutions of justice within the federal government. That prosecutor need not be given the broad mandate of Ken Starr, but should look into both the conflicts of interest at the State Department and the email situation.
President Obama and the Attorney General should do their jobs, not protect their friends.