Does Mike Bloomberg know something we don’t? The former New York City mayor is tiptoeing into running for the White House as a third party candidate, causing jitters amongst Democrats fearful that he might siphon off voters.
Liberal media outlets speculate that Mr. Bloomberg thinks Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders may emerge as the standard-bearers for their prospective parties. From Bloomberg’s perspective, they suggest, that match-up could allow a contestant who is fiscally conservative but socially liberal -- like himself -- to scoot through the middle.
Another explanation is that he sees trouble ahead for Hillary Clinton. Because of his close relationship with former NYC police Chief Ray Kelly and others in the law enforcement community, he might have the inside track on the FBI investigation into the former Secretary of State’s handling of classified documents and questionable foundation-related activities. Democrats have done a fine job of completely dismissing the FBI inquiry, but the possibility that Clinton could face serious legal hurdles may be encouraging Bloomberg’s ambitions.
The probe is not, as some Hillary backers have claimed, scandal-mongering by right-wing zealots. It is a serious investigation, reportedly employing more than 100 FBI agents not normally known for idle gestures. It is being directed by the famously apolitical James Comey, who heads President Obama’s FBI. Comey faced down apparatchiks in the George W. Bush administration seeking to continue a warrantless wiretapping program, putting his job on the line to do so. When a reporter asked him if he didn’t have a duty to support President Bush, Comey answered “No, my responsibility, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Obama proudly cited that independent streak when he announced Comey’s appointment. If the FBI discovers evidence of wrong-doing – and there are many reasons to think they will – Comey will not sit on the findings. The FBI does not indict; that is up to the Justice Department. But, if the FBI makes a recommendation to indict, and Justice ignores the report, rumor is the FBI could make public the incriminating material. Either way, Hillary Clinton’s political ambitions are toast.
The inquiry began by looking into whether Clinton’s use of a personal email server violated security standards; it has since been expanded twice. As reported by Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News, Clinton signed an oath promising to comply with the laws protecting national security information, violations that the Obama administration has aggressively prosecuted.
As Napolitano says, “The Obama Department of Justice prosecuted a young sailor for espionage for sending a selfie to his girlfriend, because in the background of the photo was a view of a sonar screen on a submarine…. It also prosecuted Gen. David Petraeus for espionage for keeping secret and top-secret documents in an unlocked drawer in his desk inside his guarded home. It alleged that he shared those secrets with a friend who also had a security clearance, but it dropped those charges.”
Napolitano contends that the bar for prosecution is low, and can be based on negligence. That is, the government need not prove that Clinton intended to reveal state secrets – only that she did so through carelessness.
Charles McCullough, the intelligence community’s inspector general, recently stirred the pot when he wrote to the chairmen of the Senate intelligence and foreign affairs committees that he has received sworn declarations from an intelligence agency he declined to name identifying “several dozen” classified emails, including several marked as “special access programs” – the highest security level possible. SAP information can include the names of intelligence assets, for instance, and other highly sensitive information. To date, some 1,340 “classified” emails have been discovered amongst those stored on Clinton’s server.
Clinton argues that those communications were not so designated at the time. Undermining her defense is a series of emails exchanged with aide Jake Sullivan in which she appears to order him to get around security protocol and simply cut and paste sensitive information to be faxed to her. The compromising communication was amongst those released in a recent Friday night “dump.” In the exchange, Sullivan reports that staffers have “had issues sending secure fax. They’re working on it.” Clinton answers, “If they can’t, turn into non-paper w no identifying heading and send non-secure.” The intent is clear.
Meanwhile, Clinton and her operatives continue to brush off this major FBI investigation as unimportant. They have claimed that the information sent by Charles McCullough III, a long-time FBI agent who was appointed by Obama as the first Inspector General of the Intelligence Community in 2011, is part of a Republican conspiracy. In Clinton’s world, everything is a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” as she famously declared the Monica Lewinsky scandal. She may be able to cow a teenage intern; James Comey may be tougher to dismiss.
For Bloomberg, Clinton’s problems may be but one of his many reasons to run. His initial election as Mayor of New York City in 2001 occurred against a backdrop of political chaos, similar to what we are seeing nationally today. Former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani could not run because of term limits; it was widely expected that he would be succeeded by a Democrat in the very blue city. However, the liberal Mark Green defeated Fernando Ferrer in a nasty primary battle with racist overtones, alienating blacks and other Democratic voters. Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat, switched to the GOP to run, narrowly defeating the bruised and battered Green. So, his political opportunism has worked before.
Perhaps most persuasive to Mayor Mike, running for president, however long the odds, would give him a platform for the next several months on which he could push his favorite causes. He is an avid supporter of increased gun control as well as a climate change activist. He has been out of office and with a muted national voice for two years; $40 billion will buy quite a megaphone.
Clinton’s legal problems could make that megaphone a whole lot bigger.