Leading DC pundit argues for a ‘higher bar’ to indict Hillary

Ron Fournier is one of the most respected and most frequent cable news talking head pundits in Washington, D.C.  The former AP White House correspondent, he now writes for National Journal, and wields journalistic influence wildly out of proportion to the size of his readership.  So when he makes an argument that prosecutors ought to use a higher bar before inducting Hillary Clinton on her email legal transgressions, it sends a signal to the rest of the mainstream media.

Yesterday, he did exactly that on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.  Chris White of Law Newz reports that Fournier claimed:

Legally though, there is a big bar that you have to get over to prosecute anybody for these crimes, much less somebody who is running for president. …I do understand that when somebody is running for president, there is a higher bar that you have to get over because we can’t have a system in which we are constantly charging people who are running for president of crimes.”

The host, Joe Scarborough, begged to differ: “Actually, the bar is ‘reckless [disregard]’ of classified information[.]”  And went on to:

… provide a handful of examples of what would happen to regular people, or even a congressman, if they left out a single piece of classified material outside of a secure area, much less sent or received over 2,000 e-mails containing classified information.

“The scale of this is so remarkable, I do not know how James Comey doesn’t do something definitive, election year or not,” Scarborough said.

Again, Fournier argued that all of that is purely a political issue about Clinton’s judgment that is for voters to decide.

“Politically, there are severe questions about her judgment that voters really have to look into.  Legally, …there is a higher bar you have to get over before you prosecute somebody who is running for president.  That is just a fact,” Fournier said.

“In what statute is that?” Scarborough asked rhetorically.

As the rest of panel broke out in an awkward laugh, Sam Stein, a Huffington Post political writer, jumped in and sort of stuttered his way along in defense of Fournier.

“Well, this is the thing … it is not codified … but we all recognize … and this is sort of the frustration with Clinton critics which is that had she been some sort of underling at the State Department, certainly there would’ve been a different standard applied to her,” Stein said.

So we now have influential journalists making the case that the American people should apply lower standards to their president than to ordinary people.  As with the Los Angeles Times, journalistic allies are making Hillary's case in advance of any FBI public action on its investigation.

I remember a time – not so long ago – when the consensus belief was that a president ought to be subject the highest possible standards of legality.  That first went out the window long ago, ratified by the Senate, when it declined to convict impeached President Bill Clinton for lying under oath.  Now with his spouse, we have pundits openly arguing for applying the lowest standards to a presidential candidate.

Ron Fournier is one of the most respected and most frequent cable news talking head pundits in Washington, D.C.  The former AP White House correspondent, he now writes for National Journal, and wields journalistic influence wildly out of proportion to the size of his readership.  So when he makes an argument that prosecutors ought to use a higher bar before inducting Hillary Clinton on her email legal transgressions, it sends a signal to the rest of the mainstream media.

Yesterday, he did exactly that on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.  Chris White of Law Newz reports that Fournier claimed:

Legally though, there is a big bar that you have to get over to prosecute anybody for these crimes, much less somebody who is running for president. …I do understand that when somebody is running for president, there is a higher bar that you have to get over because we can’t have a system in which we are constantly charging people who are running for president of crimes.”

The host, Joe Scarborough, begged to differ: “Actually, the bar is ‘reckless [disregard]’ of classified information[.]”  And went on to:

… provide a handful of examples of what would happen to regular people, or even a congressman, if they left out a single piece of classified material outside of a secure area, much less sent or received over 2,000 e-mails containing classified information.

“The scale of this is so remarkable, I do not know how James Comey doesn’t do something definitive, election year or not,” Scarborough said.

Again, Fournier argued that all of that is purely a political issue about Clinton’s judgment that is for voters to decide.

“Politically, there are severe questions about her judgment that voters really have to look into.  Legally, …there is a higher bar you have to get over before you prosecute somebody who is running for president.  That is just a fact,” Fournier said.

“In what statute is that?” Scarborough asked rhetorically.

As the rest of panel broke out in an awkward laugh, Sam Stein, a Huffington Post political writer, jumped in and sort of stuttered his way along in defense of Fournier.

“Well, this is the thing … it is not codified … but we all recognize … and this is sort of the frustration with Clinton critics which is that had she been some sort of underling at the State Department, certainly there would’ve been a different standard applied to her,” Stein said.

So we now have influential journalists making the case that the American people should apply lower standards to their president than to ordinary people.  As with the Los Angeles Times, journalistic allies are making Hillary's case in advance of any FBI public action on its investigation.

I remember a time – not so long ago – when the consensus belief was that a president ought to be subject the highest possible standards of legality.  That first went out the window long ago, ratified by the Senate, when it declined to convict impeached President Bill Clinton for lying under oath.  Now with his spouse, we have pundits openly arguing for applying the lowest standards to a presidential candidate.