As a fan of Hillary Clinton, this is as hard for me to say as it might be for some of you to hear: The presumptive Democrat nominee often shows a poor lack of judgement. This is not borne out of a lack of intelligence, or even nefariousness. It’s borne out of ego. The Clintons flout convention because they can and they know — because they are brilliant legal minds — the line between what is illegal and what is not. Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky — and likely several other women — and got away with it because it was not illegal. He came down on just the right side of perjury in the deposition that got him disbarred as an Arkansas lawyer for ethical reasons, rather than legal ones. Nobody understands Whitewater, but it’s safe to say that the Clintons exercised poor judgement in that case, as well. Bill Clinton also exercised poor judgement in talking to Loretta Lynch last week, and he knows damn well that he did. Hillary Clinton exercised poor judgement in giving speeches to Wall Street crowds when she knew she was going to be running for President again.
Hillary Clinton was also dead wrong to use a private email server while she was Secretary of the State. She knows she was wrong now, and she knew she was wrong then, because she’s too smart not to know.
The Clintons have made a number of careless mistakes in their career. There’s two ways to look at this: 1) In a 40-year political career, anyone would make a few dumb mistakes. Or, 2) the Clintons believe they are above reproach.
It was not illegal for Hillary Clinton to have a private email server, but it was against the conventions of the State Department, and Clinton knew that. She knew that because she’s a very smart woman with a very smart and dedicated staff, who also knew that a private email server went against State Department conventions.
It was not illegal to receive emails on that server, however, unless those emails were classified at the time they were sent. Almost all of those emails were not classified when they were sent. A few, however, were Top Secret. It was illegal to knowingly receive those emails on her private email server.
If prosecuted, Hillary Clinton could argue that she did not knowingly or intentionally receive those classified emails, and she would almost certainly succeed in that argument. This is why the director of the FBI, James Comey — a Republican — recommended that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring” a case against Hillary Clinton. Not because Hillary Clinton was innocent, but because no prosecutor could win the case against Hillary Clinton. We know that because what the Former CIA Director David Petraeus did — knowingly release a ton of classified information to his mistress — was far more egregious than what Hillary Clinton did, and Petraeus was ultimately only convicted of a misdemeanor. It’s highly unlikely that a prosecutor could even make a misdemeanor conviction stick to Hillary Clinton, which is why James Comey recommended that the DOJ not spend millions of dollars to attempt to prosecute Hillary Clinton.
It doesn’t mean Secretary Clinton has clean hands. It means that the DOJ will exercise its prosecutorial discretion and not go ahead with an indictment because it would be foolish to waste all those resources by bringing a loser case against Clinton.
What it says about Clinton is that either she is careless and negligent — which we know not to be the case because she is mindful, deliberate, and calculated in her every move — or that she was paranoid enough to break convention and set up her own private server out of sheer paranoia, a paranoia that is perhaps justified after what seems like a lifelong witch hunt against her.
Trump supporters, Republicans and other Hillary haters are going to say that this is evidence that the fix is in, that Hillary is crooked and corrupt. This is not true, although there will be nothing that anyone will be able to say to convince them otherwise.
They may also say that Clinton exercised poor judgement. This is true, and for those of us who are Clinton supporters, it’s simply something we are going to have to live with. Does it make her a bad candidate? Not necessarily. Will it make her a bad President? Probably not. Bill Clinton frequently exercised poor judgment and was a very effective President, because that lack of judgment rarely — if ever — extended to Presidential matters.
The threat of indictment, however, has been lifted. Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, and she will not be forced to drop out of the race. The cloud of suspicion, however, will continue to hang over her, and likely will for the rest of her career. It’s also hung over Bill Clinton’s head for most of his career. It’s not a deal breaker — especially in an election where Hillary is facing a human troll doll filled with orange Mt. Dew and programmed by Red Skull — but it should give us some pause. For big believers in Hillary, it’s also a huge bummer because no matter how well qualified she is, and no matter how much better she is for the country than Donald Trump, her opponents will always be able to level one argument against her that we will never be able to successfully rebut.