The status on-going federal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server has begun to bubble up again, less than 10 days before the critical New York primary.
The issue removed the veneer of inevitability from Clinton’s bid to be the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee last summer and gave rise to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Clinton’s email scandal had largely fallen off the public radar in recent months as conservative watchdog groups fought to get more emails from Clinton and her top aides released. The Justice Department had assigned more than 50 agents to the investigation to try to recover the server’s data, even though Clinton claimed the device has been “wiped clean.”
The topic was spiraling toward becoming an “Inside the Beltway” story before it came roaring back Sunday when President Obama said his former top diplomat has displayed “carelessness” in arranging the homebrew set-up, and vowed that Justice and FBI will not protect the Democratic frontrunner.
“I can guarantee that,” the president said in interview with Fox News Sunday, his first with the show since entering the Oval Office in 2009. “I can guarantee that, not because I give Attorney General Lynch a directive, that is institutionally how we have always operated. I do not talk to the Attorney General about pending investigations. I do not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations.”
“I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department, or the FBI, not just in this case, but in any case,” Obama added. “Full stop. Period.”
The president’s full-throated defense of neutrality is likely to backfire, though. Many Republicans already believe that even if Clinton is found to have broken the law, Obama’s Justice Department would not prosecute her and that’s why the GOP must win the White House this November.
Several Republican contenders pledged to continue the investigation into Clinton’s email server and pursue charges against her.
“Absolutely, yes,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said last month during an interview with Fox News’ “Hannity.”
On Sunday, Obama repeated his belief that Clinton's personal email use "has not jeopardized America’s national security," even though they contained classified information.
"Now, what I’ve also said is that — and she has acknowledged — that there’s a carelessness, in terms of managing e-mails, that she has owned, and she recognizes,” he added.
As for the investigation itself, FBI chief James Comey has said his agency wants to do a thorough job and is no rush to wrap up the inquiry before the Democratic National Convention this summer.
Obviously, Clinton’s camp would like the investigation to end sooner rather than later, removing a key distraction and alleviating a key concern going into the general election (aside from the ongoing House investigation into the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya).
Clinton campaign chair John Podesta was asked about the timing of the investigation on ABC’s This Week, and if, “as a practical political matter” it needed to be finished before Democrats convene the week of July 25th.
“Look, that's up to Mr. Comey, it's not in our control. She offered last summer to be interviewed, if that's what they like, if that's what they wanted,” he said. “If they want to talk to her, they can talk to her. But they haven't asked for that.”