Stretching or breaking the law on her behalf would have been rewarded by a President Clinton.
By Victor Davis Hanson
What exactly were top officials in the FBI and DOJ doing
during the election of 2016?
The Page-Strzok text exchanges might
offer a few answers. Or, as Lisa Page warned her paramour as early as February
2016, at the beginning of the campaign and well before the respective party
nominees were even selected:
One more thing: she [Hillary
Clinton] might be our next president. The last thing you need us going in there
loaded for bear. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more doj
The traditional way of looking at
the developing scandals at the FBI and among holdover Obama appointees in the
DOJ is that the bizarre atmospherics from candidate and President Trump have
simply polarized everyone in Washington, and no one quite knows what is going
Another, more helpful, exegesis,
however, is to understand that if we’d seen a Hillary Clinton victory in
November 2016, which was supposed to be a sure thing, there would now be no
scandals at all.
That is, the current players
probably broke laws and committed ethical violations not just because they were
assured there would be no consequences but also because they thought they’d
be rewarded for their laxity.
On the eve of the election, the New
York Times tracked various pollsters’ models that had assured readers that
Trump’s odds of winning were respectively 15 percent, 8 percent, 2 percent, and
less than 1 percent. Liberals howled heresy at fellow progressive poll guru
Nate Silver shortly before the vote for daring to suggest that Trump had a 29
percent chance of winning the Electoral College.
Hillary Clinton herself was not
worried about even the appearance of scandal caused by transmitting classified
documents over a private home-brewed server, or enabling her husband to shake
down foreign donations to their shared foundation, or destroying some 30,000
Evidently, she instead reasoned that she was within months of becoming
President Hillary Clinton and therefore, in her Clintonesque view of the presidency,
exempt from all further criminal exposure. Would a President Clinton have
allowed the FBI to reopen their strangely aborted Uranium One investigation;
would the FBI have asked her whether she communicated over an unsecure server
with the former president of the United States?
Former attorney general Loretta
Lynch, in unethical fashion, met on an out-of-the-way Phoenix tarmac with Bill
Clinton, in a likely effort to find the most efficacious ways to communicate
that the ongoing email scandal and investigation would not harm Hillary
When caught, thanks to local-news reporters who happened
to be at the airport, Lynch sort of, kind of recused herself. But, in fact, at
some point she had ordered James Comey not to use the word “investigation” in
his periodic press announcements about the FBI investigation.
How could Lynch in the middle of an
election have been so silly as to allow even the appearance of impropriety?
Answer: There would have been no impropriety had Hillary won — an assumption
reflected in the Page-Strzok text trove when Page texted, about Lynch, “She
knows no charges will be brought.”
In fact, after a Clinton victory, Lynch’s
obsequiousness in devising such a clandestine meeting with Bill Clinton may
well have been rewarded: Clinton allies leaked to the New York Times
that Clinton was considering keeping Lynch on as the attorney general.
How could former deputy director of
the FBI Andrew McCabe assume an oversight role in the FBI probe of the Clinton
email scandal when just months earlier his spouse had run for state office in
Virginia and had received a huge $450,000 cash donation from Common Good VA,
the political-action committee of long-time Clinton-intimate Terry McAuliffe?
Again, the answer was clear. McCabe
assumed that Clinton would easily win the election. Far from being a scandal,
McCabe’s not “loaded for bear” oversight of the investigation, in the world of
beltway maneuvering, would have been a good argument for a promotion in the new
Clinton administration. Most elite bureaucrats understood the Clinton way of
doing business, in which loyalty, not legality, is what earned career
Some have wondered why the recently
demoted deputy DOJ official Bruce Ohr (who met with the architects of the
Fusion GPS file after the election) would have been so stupid as to allow his
spouse to work for Fusion — a de facto Clinton-funded purveyor of what turned
out to be Russian fantasies, fibs, and obscenities?
Again, those are absolutely the
wrong questions. Rather, why wouldn’t a successful member of the Obama
administrative aparat make the necessary ethical adjustments to further his
career in another two-term progressive regnum?
In other words, Ohr rightly
assumed that empowering the Clinton-funded dossier would pay career dividends
for such a power couple once Hillary was elected. Or, in desperation, the
dossier would at least derail Trump after her defeat. Like other members of his
byzantine caste, Ohr did everything right except bet on the wrong horse.
What about the recently reassigned
FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI top investigator Peter Strzok? Their reported
50,000-plus text messages (do the math per hour at work, and it is hard to
believe that either had to time to do much of anything else) are providing a
Procopian court history of the entire Fusion-Mueller investigation miasma.
So why did Strzok and Page believe
that they could conduct without disclosure a romantic affair on
FBI-government-owned cellphones? Why would they have been emboldened enough to
cite a meeting with Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, in which they apparently
discussed the dire consequences of an improbable Trump victory?
I want to believe the path you threw
out for consideration in Andy’s [probably Andrew McCabe, then deputy director
of the FBI] office that there’s no way Trump gets elected — but I’m afraid we
can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you
die before you’re 40.
And why would the two believe that
they could so candidly express their contempt for a presidential candidate
supposedly then under a secret FBI investigation?
Once more, those are the wrong
interrogatories. If we consider the mentality of government elite careerists,
we see that the election-cycle machinations and later indiscretions of Strzok
and Page were not liabilities at all. They were good investments. They signaled
their loyalty to the incoming administration and that they were worthy of
commendation and reward.
Hillary Clinton’s sure victory
certainly also explains the likely warping of the FISA courts by FBI careerists
seeking to use a suspect dossier to surveille Trump associates — and the
apparent requests by Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and others to read surveilled
transcripts of Trump associates, unmask names, and leak them to pet reporters.
Again, all these insiders were playing the careerist odds. What we view as
reprehensible behavior, they at the time considered wise investments that would
earn rewards with an ascendant President Hillary Clinton.
Did Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, or
Debbie Wasserman Shultz worry about their fabrications, unethical behavior, and
various conspiratorial efforts to ensure that Hillary Clinton would be exempt
from criminal liability in her email shenanigans, and that she would win the Democratic
nomination and general election?
Not when their equally unethical and
conspiratorial boss would appreciate her subordinate soul mates. For a
deep-state careerist without ethical bearings, one of the advantages of a
Clinton sure-thing presidency would be that the Clintons are known to reward
loyalty more highly than morality.
Then we arrive at the tragic farce
of former FBI director James Comey.
It is now easy to deplore Comey’s unethical
and unprofessional behavior: In all likelihood, he wrote an exoneration of
Hillary Clinton before he even interviewed her and her top aides; then he lied
about just that sequence while he was under oath and virtue-signaling before
Congress; he feigned concern about Clinton’s felonious behavior but used
linguistic gymnastics in his report to ensure his condemnation would be merely
rhetorical and without legal consequences.
Had Hillary won, as she was supposed
to, Comey would probably have been mildly chastised for his herky-jerky press
conferences, but ultimately praised for making sure the email scandal didn’t
Comey’s later implosion, recall, occurred only after the improbable
election of Donald Trump, as he desperately reversed course a fourth time and
tried to ingratiate himself with Trump while hedging his bets by winking and
nodding at the ongoing, unraveling fantasy of the Steele dossier.
And Barack Obama? We now know that
he himself used an alias to communicate at least 20 times with Hillary on her
private, non-secure gmail account.
But Obama lied on national TV, saying he
learned of Hillary’s illegal server only when the rest of the nation did, by
reading the news. Would he have dared to lie so publicly if he’d assumed that
Trump’s presidency was imminent?
Would he ever have allowed his subordinates to
use the dossier to obtain FISA warrants and pass around and unmask the
resulting surveillance transcripts if he’d seen Trump as the likely winner and
a potentially angered president with powers to reinvestigate all these illegal
We sometimes forget that Barack
Obama, not candidate Hillary Clinton, was president when the FBI conducted the
lax investigation of the email scandal, when Loretta Lynch outsourced her
prosecutorial prerogatives to James Comey, when the FBI trafficked with the
Clinton-funded Fusion GPS dossier, when various DOJ and FBI lawyers requested
FISA-approved surveillance largely on the basis of a fraudulent document, and
when administration officials unmasked and leaked the names of American
Had Hillary Clinton polled ten
points behind Donald Trump in early 2016, we’d have none of these scandals —
not because those involved were moral actors (none were), but because Hillary
would have been considered yesterday’s damaged goods and not worth any
extra-legal exposure taken on her behalf.
Similarly, if the clear front-runner
Hillary Clinton had won the election, we’d now have no scandals. Again, the
reason is not that she and her careerist enablers did not engage in scandalous
behavior, but that such foul play would have been recalibrated as rewardable
fealty and absorbed into the folds of the progressive deep state.
The only mystery in these sordid
scandals is how a president Hillary Clinton would have rewarded her various
appendages. In short, how would a President Clinton have calibrated the many
rewards for any-means-necessary help?
Would Lynch’s tarmac idea have trumped
Comey’s phony investigation? Would Glen Simpson now be White House press
secretary, James Comey Clinton’s CIA director; would Andrew McCabe be Comey’s
replacement at the FBI?
In reductionist terms, every single
scandal that has so far surfaced at the FBI and DOJ share a common catalyst.
What now appears clearly unethical and probably illegal would have passed as
normal in a likely 16-year Obama-Clinton progressive continuum.
A final paradox: Why did so many
federal officials and officeholders act so unethically and likely illegally
when they were convinced of a Clinton landslide? Why the overkill?
The answer to that paradox lies in
human nature and can be explored through the hubris and nemesis of Greek
tragedy — or the 1972 petty burgling of a Watergate complex apartment when
Richard Nixon really was on his way to a landslide victory.
Needlessly weaponizing the Obama FBI
and the DOJ was akin to Hillary Clinton’s insanely campaigning in the last days
of the 2016 campaign in red-state Arizona, the supposed “cherry atop a pleasing
In short, such hubris was not just
what Peter Strzok in August 2016 termed an “insurance policy” against an
unlikely Trump victory.
Instead, the Clinton and Obama officials believed that
it was within the administrative state’s grasp and their perceived political
interest not just to beat but to destroy and humiliate Donald Trump — and by
extension all the distasteful deplorables and irredeemables he supposedly had