Hillary can’t be sleeping very well these days as several unpleasant possibilities darken her future. President Obama may pardon her, or he may not. If not, President Trump will dominate her nightmares once again. Will he pardon her, or will he let the investigations run their course?
Here are my predictions.
President Obama will not pardon Hillary Clinton, in conformity with his oft-repeated insistence that she did not knowingly do anything wrong and that she certainly did not jeopardize national security, and hence she has done nothing that needs pardoning. These statements, made for the purpose of absolving his administration of scandal and promoting Hillary’s campaign, may not reflect the president’s real opinions. But they do align with “no foul, therefore no pardon.”
A deeper reason for not pardoning her is that he’s mad as hell. He revealed some of his anger early in his first press conference after the election, when he pointed out that if you want to win Iowa, you’ve got to campaign in Iowa. This was a direct dig at Hillary. He thinks she blew it, so badly that even his and Michelle’s efforts to campaign for her were a waste of time. Combine this with his apparent genuine dislike for the “you’re likeable enough” lady, and what must have been his justifiable outrage upon learning of Clinton Foundation deal-making, and you have all the ingredients for sweet revenge.
The greatest factor weighing against an Obama pardon, however, is what it would do to that for which he most dearly yearns: his legacy. It’s hard enough for Obama to insist, as he has frequently done, that the election was less a repudiation of his policies than a desire by some folks to “shake things up.” It’s harder still to admit that he appointed a miscreant to the office of secretary of state who jeopardized national security under his watch and with his witless (i.e., email) participation. No, it’s far better to suck it up and carry on with the fiction. So Hillary has little to fear, in my opinion, until the inauguration.
What will President Trump do? He said on Sixty Minutes that he didn’t want anything bad to happen to them (Hillary and Bill) and that “these are good people.” Also, he is properly reluctant, I think, to prosecute political opponents.
On the other hand, Donald Trump has often expressed his belief that the Clintons and their foundation violated important laws. He has also inveighed against a “rigged” justice system that allows powerful people to get away with things that would send ordinary Americans to prison. He has created a constituency for this point of view, and it demands action.
I predict that President Trump will instruct his Justice Department to continue to vigorously investigate the machinations of the Clinton Foundation, and ultimately to issue a detailed Comey-like public statement on their findings. And then – if the Clintons are found to have committed violations of law, and after the public has been advised of the extent and details of their lawbreaking – President Trump will pardon them.