Clinton’s cozy relationship with DOJ could save her from indictment on e-mail scandal

By Global Times Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/5/19 0:33:01

The cozy relationship between likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the US Justice Department could save her from a potentially devastating indictment for using a private e-mail server while serving in the Obama administration, experts said.

The Justice Department is in a sticky position amid a controversy over Hillary Clinton's use of a personal e-mail account and server while serving as the secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

At issue is whether Clinton compromised US national security by setting up a private server in her home and using a private e-mail account, instead of using a State Department e-mail account and a secure government-protected server.

Critics charged that Clinton compromised US national security, but the leading Democratic candidate has maintained that she has not.

"The Justice Department is in a delicate position. Anything it does is likely to have a substantial impact on the election," Brookings Institution' senior fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

Indeed, if the Justice Department decides to indict Clinton, the move could well end any chance for her to clinch the White House, and could be tantamount to handing the election to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

"If the department were to make an indictment, that would be devastating for the Clinton campaign, since it would take place in the midst of a heated election," West said of what is expected to be a major punch-up between Clinton and Trump in the presidential race.

Trump is crafting a narrative about Clinton over the scandal and has given her the nickname of "crooked Hillary."

In addition to the e-mail controversy, Clinton has also been involved in other supposed scandals over the past two decades, including one over the 2012 terror attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya while she was secretary of state.

Despite repeated requests from then US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack, for more security, none was given by the State Department headed then by Clinton.

The attack is still under investigation by a Republican-led Congressional panel.

Still, in the end, experts said an indictment on the e-mail scandal is unlikely. "It would be surprising if there were an indictment this close to the election. All election bets would be off if the case went to trial," West said.

Critics noted that what appears to be a cozy relationship between Clinton and a number of individuals in the Justice Department could save Clinton from an indictment.

For example, current US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who heads the Justice Department, was appointed by Hillary's husband and former president Bill Clinton in 1999 to be the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Moreover, Justice Department employees, in their capacity as private citizens, have contributed nearly $75,000 to Clinton's presidential campaign, US media reported.

So far, Justice Department's leaks have suggested that investigators have not found any intent to disclose classified information by Clinton.

Some of the material was classified after the fact, not when Clinton sent it to someone, West noted.

Others have suggested that many government officials have transmitted classified material via e-mail, so it may be hard to prosecute Clinton for something that was a common practice among government officials, West added.

The article is a commentary from the Xinhua News Agency.

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