By Michael Goodwin
She can’t help herself. Even yesterday, with the political world fixated on her meeting with FBI agents, Hillary Clinton had her flack mislead the public.
A spokesman said she gave a “voluntary” interview, which is true only because she agreed to talk instead of waiting to be subpoenaed. The flack also said she was “pleased” to assist the gumshoes.
Who believes she was “pleased” to be interviewed by the FBI in a criminal investigation that could upend her life?
But that’s the way the Clintons roll.
Wherever they go, whatever they do, ethics are trashed and suspicions of criminal conduct follow them like night follows day.
It’s who they are and it’s self-delusional to believe another stint in the White House would make the Clintons better people. Power exacerbates rather than cures an absence of integrity.
Yet there’s another dimension to their chronic crookedness, and it gets insufficient attention even though it might be more important to the nation’s well-being.
It is that, in addition to being personally corrupt, the Clintons are corrupters. They are piggish users, with the people and institutions around them inevitably tarnished and sometimes destroyed even as the Clintons escape to their next scam.
Monica Lewinsky is a prime example, and Loretta Lynch is the latest. The attorney general’s dumbfounding decision to meet privately with Bill Clinton while the FBI investigates Hillary’s handling of national secrets stained Lynch’s reputation and added to public mistrust of the Justice Department.
Lynch didn’t create that mistrust — she was supposed to be the antidote. Her predecessor, Eric Holder, was a left-wing activist who used his role as the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer to further his and Obama’s political agenda.
That role earned Holder an undesired distinction. His refusal to cooperate with Congress on the disastrous Fast and Furious gun sting led to a bipartisan vote in the House holding him in criminal contempt, the first time in history a sitting Cabinet member ever faced such a censure.
Lynch, as his successor, was handily confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, with her steady, firm demeanor and solid record as a prosecutor carrying the day.
Yet her lifetime of good work and the hope for a fresh start at Justice are now overshadowed. She acknowledges the meeting with Bill Clinton was a mistake, and pledged to accept the recommendation of FBI agents and career prosecutors on whether Hillary should face charges.
That’s not enough, not nearly enough, given the circumstances and stakes.
While Lynch offers no explanation as to why in the world she agreed to the 30-minute meeting on a plane in Phoenix, perhaps she felt she owed the former president something. Remember, he first nominated her to be the US attorney in Brooklyn in 1999, a promotion that changed her life.
After his presidency, she went to a top private law firm, and became a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Bill Clinton had been very, very good to her, and without his boost, she probably wouldn’t even have been a candidate to replace Holder.
And now her patron wanted a private meeting. Both had to know it was wrong, but he had nothing to lose and didn’t care about her reputation or the Justice Department’s.
That was her responsibility. And it doesn’t really matter if they didn’t discuss the case. Just his being there was reminder enough that she owes him.
Lynch also had to know that an FBI agent who socialized with the spouse of a suspect in a criminal case probably would be investigated and fired. Yet she agreed to the meeting anyway.
Despite Lynch’s vow to let others make the call, her refusal to recuse herself means she will remain in charge. That was never ideal because Obama endorsed Hillary and all but exonerated her, but there seemed no way to argue for a special prosecutor without more evidence that the outcome was rigged. There was also FBI Director James Comey’s reputation as an independent straight shooter to provide some reassurance that the case would be handled on the merits.
Now Lynch has broken that fragile confidence, and the need for a special prosecutor is obvious.
The explosive result shows the Clintons haven’t lost their touch for leaving destruction and chaos in their wake. The remarkable events also serve as a clear reminder that while the Clintons enriched themselves over the years, they were helping to bankrupt the public trust in its government and institutions. And they won’t stop until they’re stopped.