The most powerful woman in the world, Hillary Clinton, officially announced on Sunday her intention to run for president, a move that surprised no one. It would be difficult not to notice that she’s been campaigning for the better part of twenty years. In other shocking news, water is wet.
America must really be the land of second chances. Barely two weeks ago Hillary Clinton obliterated every “0” and “1” on the home email server she had used for official State Department business and today she is the front runner for the 2016 presidential race.
According to Hillary, her life is an open book. “I want the public to see my email,” she tweeted less than a month before dumping the data. Don’t believe her? Stop with the conspiracy theories! There’s nothing shady about keeping a secret email server at home and wiping it after a congressional committee subpoenas it.
In a sane world, destroying subpoenaed evidence would end a politician’s career. What Hillary Clinton did was a crime yet she won’t pay any legal penalty any everyone knows it. She’ll play it off, deriding it as a FOX News story that only the nutroots still talk about. “Email server” will probably become a sexist code word, much the same way that “Obamacare,” “golf,” and “apartment” have become racist code words during the Obama years. Hillary will intimidate those few reporters who have the nerve to ask her about it and she will then waltz effortlessly to the Democratic nomination, if not the White House.
There was a time when flipping Congress the bird was considered something of a serious transgression, but no longer. Hillary Clinton is the third Obama administration official or former official to blow off congressional investigators and the third to escape legal punishment. The first two were Attorney General Eric Holder and IRS official Lois Lerner. In both cases, the accused party was charged but the Justice Department refused to prosecute.
Attorney General Eric Holder was charged with contempt of Congress in 2012 when he refused to furnish the House Oversight Committee with tens of thousands of pages concerning the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal. Operation Fast and Furious was an ill-conceived initiative involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that deliberately allowed straw purchasers to buy more than 2,000 guns and transport them across the Mexican border to drug cartels. One of those guns was used to murder a US Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry. The total number of Mexican victims is more difficult to calculate but can probably be counted in the hundreds.
Holder doesn’t think he should be required to provide any additional Fast and Furious documents because he’s already provided thousands of pages. The fact that he’s withholding tens of thousands of pages isn’t supposed to matter. He willingly gave up the ones he wanted Congress to see, so what difference does it make if he’s still clinging to the incriminating ones? At one point, his Justice Department even offered to furnish a “fair compilation” of the outstanding documents if congressional Republicans agreed, in advance, to end their investigation.
In the end, the Justice Department decided not to pursue charges against its chief. Eric Holder thoroughly investigated this unseemly affair with the drug cartels and the dead bodies strewn across Mexico before finding Eric Holder to be faultless. Eric Holder is free to go now.
Two years later, when Eric Holder was testifying about another one of the Obama Administration’s scandals (who can keep them straight?), Congressman Louie Gohmert alluded to the contempt of Congress charge that Holder had shrugged off two years prior. “I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper oversight,” Gohmert said.
“You don’t want to go there, buddy! You don’t want to go there, okay,” Holder defiantly retorted. This New York native was giving Gohmert his best Bronx cheer. Up yours!
Lois Lerner has about the same amount of respect for Congress as Holder, which is to say none at all. When she was at the IRS, her office deliberately targeted conservative organizations for special scrutiny, often failing to grant their status after years of examination while similar liberal groups were rubber-stamped. Groups that contained the words or phrases “Tea Party,” “patriot,” or “9/12” were singled out, as were groups that were critical of government policy. Groups were asked if any of their leaders had intentions of seeking public office in the future, even what they prayed about.
The whole operation had the appearance of either an intelligence gathering operation, a fishing expedition to find any excuse to deny the tax-exempt status, or an attempt to keep opposition groups tied up with onerous paperwork. A combination of all three is certainly not outside the realm of possibility.
But no one was targeted, according to Lois Lerner. I’m sure every tax-exempt organization gets the same treatment, even those that are part of the broad Democratic coalition. Unfortunately for Lois Lerner, emails were later recovered indicating that she had called tea partiers “crazies,” and implied that they were a greater threat than “alien terrorists.”
When Congress put Lerner on the hot seat, she pleaded the fifth, to no one’s surprise. Unfortunately for her, she prefaced her statement with a declaration of her legal innocence. “I have done nothing wrong,” she said. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee.” Republicans on the committee have argued that a person who claims to have done nothing illegal has waived her right, ipso facto, to plead the fifth. The protection provided by the fifth amendment is not a blanket excuse to blow off any question a witness doesn’t want to answer, it’s protection from self-incrimination, which by definition implies a guilty party.
Last week we learned that Eric Holder is exercising his “discretion” in the Lerner case. He has decided that her unqualified declaration of innocence does not preclude her pleading fifth amendment. She can have her cake and eat it too.
So Hillary Clinton is in good company. She won’t go to jail; she won’t even be forced out to pasture, as disgraced old politicians used to be when caught violating the law and their oaths of office. She’s a new breed of politician, characterized by her shamelessness, just as we are a new kind of voting electorate, ready to elect her the next president. Congress is a joke and defying its subpoenas carries no penalty.