High Time to Act on Clinton Emails

OK. Tuesday's voting settled matters, whether Bernie likes it or not. Hillary Clinton has more than enough delegates to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

But aside from having to deal with the senator and his supporters, and fight the bitter battle against the awful Donald Trump, another key factor stands in her way: the possibility that the former Secretary of State may be indicted by the Justice Department, based on the FBI investigation of her private email server.

That investigation has been going on for nine months -- since last August.
Yet the last public word from FBI Director James Comey is that he won't be rushed into making a decision on whether to recommend Mrs. Clinton's indictment -- something that could well decide who will be our next president.

"I don't tether to any particular external deadline," Comey told reporters a month ago, "so I do feel the pressure to do it well and promptly, but as between the two, I always choose 'well'."

With no decision a month later, and with Clinton not yet even interviewed by the FBI, that statement stands out as ridiculous. Hillary Clinton is now the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, and the favorite to become our next chief executive. It's already late in the political game.

It would be devastating enough for the tens of millions of Democratic voters if she were indicted between now and the party's convention beginning July 25. If that happens, their party would be under extreme pressure to choose another candidate. But at least Democrats would have the advantage of a national convention to decide what to do.

However, if she were indicted after her official nomination by the convention, matters would be infinitely worse. Democrats would find choosing another candidate much more complicated and a lot less democratic, and their chances of winning would be much reduced by a new candidate with drastically less time to organize and campaign.

A third possibility would be worse not only for Democrats but for all Americans. If Mrs. Clinton were indicted after being elected, the whole country might be embroiled in one of the worst fights in American history, as to whether a president-elect or president should resign over the charges.

Besides which, if she wasn't already gone, she'd have to leave office if convicted, and quite possibly abandon the White House for the jailhouse. If you think American government and politics are a polarized mess now, imagine those last two scenarios!

Not to mention the fact that any of the above occurrences would greatly increase the catastrophic possibility of the election of Donald Trump, a lying, bullying swindler, totally unfit for office, who's correctly described by critics, as a bigot who doesn't understand world or domestic affairs and poses a serious threat to the First Amendment.

A vastly increased chance of Trump's election, and one or more of the other dire possibilities mentioned earlier, are on the table if the FBI's Comey and his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, don't decide in the less than seven weeks before the Democratic convention in Philadelphia whether or not to indict Clinton. Lynch heads the Justice Department, which would have to bring any indictment.

Outside lawyers and scholars have offered opinions on all sides of the case, despite the fact that they don't know what evidence the FBI has found or will. The Libertarian Party's new vice presidential nominee, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, who once headed the Justice Department's criminal division, says prosecutors would have to prove criminal intent to charge Clinton, and "I don't see it."

But former attorney general Michael Mukasey says it's "nearly impossible" to believe Clinton is not guilty "at least for mishandling classified information." However, law school professor Laurie Levenson says it's hard to find any other cases "where the unwise handling of classified information led to a federal indictment." Mukasey and others also argue that Clinton may be guilty of "gross negligence," which could land her in jail for ten years.

The delay in announcing a decision may indicate that the FBI has found damning leads that cry out for further scrutiny. Or maybe the Bureau just wants to button down every little detail before clearing Mrs. Clinton. But whatever the case, it's high time for Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch to make a decision and act on it, one way or the other.