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McQuade writes: "To be effective, the Department of Justice must be independent from partisan politics. And, just as important, it must be perceived as independent."

Donald Trump lurks behind Hillary Clinton as she answers a question from the audience during a debate in 2016. (photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)
Donald Trump lurks behind Hillary Clinton as she answers a question from the audience during a debate in 2016. (photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Trump's Anti-Hillary Crusade Could Break the Justice Department

By Barbara McQuade, The Daily Beast

09 January 18

There will be severe, lasting damage if prosecutors reopen the Clinton investigation even if it’s only to appease the president.

o be effective, the Department of Justice must be independent from partisan politics. 

And, just as important, it must be perceived as independent. 

Today’s reporting in The Daily Beast that the Department of Justice is reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server threatens to undermine that essential virtue.

Federal investigations are based on collection of evidence and legal analysis to determine whether a prosecution is in the best interests of justice. In the case of Hillary Clinton’s email server, FBI agents reviewed emails, interviewed witnesses, and reached the conclusion that no charges were appropriate.

In summer of 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey publicly announced that the FBI had concluded its investigation and was recommending against charging Clinton. Calling her conduct “extremely careless,” Comey nonetheless stated that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case against Clinton for her conduct. Looking to prior cases, Comey said, “We cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.” He noted that all previous prosecutions involved “some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.”

Comey reopened the investigation in October 2016 when seemingly new Clinton emails were found on a laptop computer, only to close it a few days later when the FBI reached the same conclusion as they had in July. That was the end of the investigation.

Until now.

During the campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump frequently blasted DOJ’s treatment of Clinton. In the past month, President Trump has renewed his criticism of the Justice Department regarding its treatment of “Crooked” Hillary, putting “Justice” in quotation marks in one tweet, and later demanding the “Deep State Justice Dept” finally act.

And now, it appears that DOJ is reopening the investigation. Renewing an investigation into the president’s political opponent just because he demands it is wrong and dangerous. The Department of Justice is not the president’s personal legal team, designed to lock up his rivals. DOJ has a long tradition of independence from the White House. Bowing to the wishes of the president to investigate his political enemies would undermine public confidence in the objectivity of DOJ’s charging decisions in this case and all others.

One legitimate reason to reopen an investigation would be the discovery of new evidence. Just as the FBI reopened the investigation in October upon finding new email messages on a laptop computer, reopening it again could be appropriate if some other new evidence has been discovered or new witness has been identified. But today’s report does not indicate that any new evidence has been discovered.

In the absence of newly discovered evidence, it would undermine the non-partisan nature of the Justice Department to reopen an investigation just because of a change in the party that is in charge of the executive branch. Reopening this case could set a dangerous precedent for future administrations to reconsider all charging decisions with which they disagree.

It may be, as some have speculated, that the new investigation is designed merely to appease Trump, and that officials know full well that no charges will emerge. Even that sort of charade would be an abuse of the awesome powers of the Department of Justice and a waste of resources that could be better spent on new cases. One would hope that DOJ’s leaders would have the backbone to reject such pressures rather than to pretend to accede to them.

At the end of his remarks announcing his recommendation in the Clinton case, Comey said, “What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.”

Will we be able to say the same about the new investigation? your social media marketing partner


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+7 # chapdrum 2018-01-09 14:53
Likely that is the very idea.
+4 # bread and butter 2018-01-09 15:11
Let's investigate both of them fully, and let the chips fall where they may.
+19 # Moxa 2018-01-09 16:39
If you've ever wondered how states become totalitarian, simply observe what is happening in the U.S.

Nobody can simply declare himself a dictator and get away with it. He needs help. It can only happen when the people who could stop it are corrupt themselves or lack the backbone to stand up to him. Little by little, the structures of government meant to provide checks and balances become flaccid, and are usurped by the would-be despot.

We still have a semblance of democracy left. Power still resides in the people, and despite corruption of the election process, it is still possible to vote somebody out of office.

Here is where the Democrats have much to answer for. Unless they represent a completely different way of governing, voters will not be sufficiently motivated to change the system. Indeed they will not have the OPPORTUNITY to do so.

Trump is not the problem; he is a SYMPTOM of the problem, which is the complete sell-out of politicians to their rich corporate donors. I know of only one major politician who represents a way out, and that is Bernie Sanders.

Notice the Dems have changed their strategy regarding him. They can no longer say his policies are outlandish or he is a mere upstart. Now it is that he is too old, and someone fresh should take over.

Show me someone with his vision, compassion, experience, courage, moral integrity and, yes--vitality; someone who is right on so many issues--and I'll listen to what you have to say.
+13 # wantrealdemocracy 2018-01-10 10:07
What "semblance of democracy do we still have?
The people support Single Payer Health care, Medicare for all by over 80%. I think an even greater number of us want these wars and the war funding for Israel to END AT ONCE.
+1 # Moxa 2018-01-10 21:31
The semblance of democracy is that, in spite of the extremely corrupt election system, it is still the people, if they vote in large enough numbers, who elect the politicians. My point was that that fact is only meaningful if there are politicians worth voting for. Bernie is the only one I know of on the presidential level; there are some others down ballot. In other words, if truly inspiring progressive people show up people will vote for them. The problem is there are just too few of them. As I said, we are headed to fascism; but there is still the POSSIBILITY of change.
+11 # wrknight 2018-01-10 11:48
States also become totalitarian by beefing up security, militarizing police, increasing surveillance, starting unnecessary wars, creating threats to national security, increasing secrecy and lying to the public among other things.

If the shoe fits, wear it.
-2 # dbrize 2018-01-09 16:59
“What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.”
James Comey

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Lewis Carroll
-13 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-01-09 20:26
"To be effective, the Department of Justice must be independent from partisan politics."

This author has obviously not read any of the Stzrok text messages or has not heard that about 10 top DOJ or FBI officers have been fired, demoted, or forcibly resigned. There really can be no doubt now that the FBI, DOJ, CIA, and NSA worked assiduously to insure that Hillary won. And when she lost they began working on the "insurance policy" to destroy Trump's presidency.

This author needs to read the first draft of Comey's memo, referenced above. He could look up how the phrase "grossly negligent," a criminal act, was replaced by "extreme carelessness," not a crime.

I wonder if this author would make the case he makes here for Paul Manafort. In the suit Manafort filed against Mueller he points out that all the charges filed against him by Mueller were investigated by the FBI 10 years ago and the FBI found no reason to prosecute. So why is Mueller bringing them back now?

Let's face the truth. There is a war going on now between the forces behind Hillary and the Trump administration. The Hillary forces (CIA, FBI, DOJ, NSA, major media) want to destroy Trump. He is counterpunching as he always does. The likely conclusion is that Hillary will be destroyed in this war. She is more vulnerable, since there is lots more evidence for crimes on her part.

The war is tearing US democracy apart, or what it left of it.
+3 # RMF 2018-01-10 14:43

You crack me up -- yes, as you put it, a number of "top DOJ or FBI officers have been fired, demoted, or forcibly resigned."

But this only happens when professional agents, performing sworn duties zealously, get too close to exposing Trump/GOP conspiracy to commit federal (and state) crimes.
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-01-10 21:48
rmf -- do you even know who the fired/resigned/ demoted people are? Or what they were pushed out for? I don't think so.
-22 # Kiwikid 2018-01-09 21:21
The only way to stop this nonsense is to have another investigation. Include some of the Hillary haters in the process, so that nothing is glossed over - just get it over with so that justice can be seen to be done, and we can all move on.
+8 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2018-01-10 13:50
Quoting Kiwikid:
The only way to stop this nonsense is to have another investigation.
Really? And after that, how about another? And another? Not because there are new facts or new information but just because, gee, let’s have another investigation? Was that your position in 2014 after 8 investigations into Benghazi failed to turn up ANY criminal activity and yet a 9th investigation was undertaken? And the crew that wants HRC’s head on a platter is suggesting yet ANOTHER Benghazi investigation? Plus asking for more email investigations?

There are 3 concepts at work here.
1) Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,
2) The boy who cried wolf and
3) The lady doth protest too much

For awhile, it appeared that #1 above was the operative concept. But after a total of 8 investigations, all coming up a-cropper, even the most devoted Republicans began to weary of their Congressional boys crying wolf. When said boys tried yet again, and failed yet again, costing the taxpayers over $7 million in their 8th Congressional investigation alone, some began to wonder what the REAL issue was.

Now we have the emails being shuffled in to take the place of Benghazi and that 3rd concept may be growing in the minds of those who can think. “What REALLY is the issue?” What threat does HRC pose to Republicans that is so dangerous that they must clobber and hammer her, year after year? Even to the point of violating the Constitution and the rule of law?
+17 # No Go 2018-01-09 22:45
From the article:
"Renewing an investigation into the president’s political opponent just because he demands it is wrong and dangerous."

There is nothing about Donald Trump as President that is not "wrong and dangerous".
+2 # davehaze 2018-01-09 23:24
Hillary Clinton should have never been foistered on us by the Democratic Party. She was far too flawed and dishonest and distasteful to so many people who were also disgusted with her husband. Most any other candidate would have beaten Trump.

Another factor was that the Democratic party along with corporate media ignored that the Republican Party suppressed voter registration and manipulated voters in polling places and flipped votes in voting machines.

How many millions of votes were not properly counted? Was it two or three million?

So now we have one more Trump abomination to talk about this manipulation of the justice department.
+22 # RLF 2018-01-10 06:55
Since Raygun conspiring with the Iranians to keep the hostages longer to the present we have Republicans committing crimes and it being investigated and rarely punished in any meaningful way...with the cooperation of ethical Republicans. My parents always said to me...commit a crime and I'll be the first to turn you in. That just not true any more with parents and certainly not with the Republican party. They are mostly Millionaires that stole their money and believe the laws were written to tax poor black people. We have gotten to a place where ethics are nonexistent in this country...welco me to the United Banana Republics of America!
+13 # wrknight 2018-01-10 11:50
...ethical Republicans? Isn't that an oxymoron?
-9 # Inspired Citizen 2018-01-10 08:20
Clinton should be indicted for election fraud after her machine rigged the primaries against Bernie.

-12 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-01-10 09:15
"Comey said, “What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.”"

We now know this to be totally untrue. Too bad lying to the media is not a crime. Comey's statement is exactly why the DOJ is re-opening the Clinton email case. The investigation was not competent, honest, or independent. There is new evidence on how Comey's resolution of the investigation was corrupted. Just look now at the chief investigators of the Clinton email case -- McCabe and Strzok. Both are now fired, gone, and disgraced.

Why do we have to put up with little dishonest weasels like Comey? Can't this guy be sent to jail or somewhere?
+4 # ericlipps 2018-01-10 12:59
The only thing that would have satisfied you that the investigation wascompetently, homestly and independently conducted would have been for him to see Hillary Clinton led away in chains and locked up for life, with or without trial.
0 # Saberoff 2018-01-10 17:29
Ya, I can see him/her just giddy at the thought of it.
This Russian has never made a rational point...
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-01-10 21:55
It is you saying that not me. I regard the Clintons as figures of history, much like Reagan or Nixon or anyone who is no longer with us. It is sometimes necessary to point out the things they did that conditioned what we face today. But other than that, I have no interest in them.

I'm the one who keeps saying that the whole Comey/Mueller/S enate/House investigations are big nothing-burgers and should be shut down. You and others are saying that the investigators should follow where ever the evidence leads them. Well, now the evidence is leading back to Hillary and her team in Fusion GPS, the FBI, CIA, NSA, Uranium One, and a lot of other things.

When did you or any of the Russiagaters set limits on what could be investigated? If you think Russia is the problem, Clinton had many more relations with Russia than Trump did. Michael Flynn got paid $40,000 by RT to speak at its annual conference. Bill Clinton got $500,000 from Russian oligarchs and banks to speak to them. Which would you investigate if you were Robert Mueller?
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-01-11 09:13
One more point. I'm the one who keeps saying that the investigations should be shut down because there is no evidence of any crime at all. Then we could focus our attention on what is said in the Nick Turse article now on RSN -- ending the ever growing Global War on Terror, which is engulfing the world and threaten to go hot in US bomb strikes against Iran and N. Korea.

If the investigations go on, the Clintons will be drawn in, and there is real evidence of crimes committed by them. I say stop it all and let the Clinton's retire some where as far away from Washington as possible.

Eric, you and your Trump hating crowd are giving Mueller and other investigators all the rope they need to hang the Clintons. It is not me. If Trump is hanged, it will be his own doing because he lies under oath. It will not be for any phony Russian collusion to beat Hillary in 2016. Hillary lost because she ran a bad campaign.

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