One of the big fictions of the Hillary Clinton campaign just went off the rails. Ever since the email scandal broke, the Clinton machine has been adamant about was the fact that the investigation was an administrative one, where the nice FBI agents act as management consultants, rather than an investigation into criminal misconduct. You may recall, back in July, the Clinton camp bullied the New York Times into making a traction when they characterized the investigation as criminal.
Some things have started to change. For instance, earlier in the week we got a peak at an FBI filing trying to limit pubic disclosure of information on the Clinton investigation:
“[A]ll of the materials retrieved from any electronic equipment obtained from former Secretary Clinton for the investigation are evidence, potential evidence, or information that has not yet been assessed for evidentiary value,” the FBI said in the filing.
Release of any of that additional information “could reasonably be expected to interfere with the pending investigation,” it added.
Just a short while ago, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was talking up Obama’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton. A reporter brought up the issue of the propriety of Obama endorsing Hillary Clinton as she is under investigation (a subject I hit upon earlier today)
REPORTER: “Previously the President has used one public forum or another to comment on the FBI investigation into Mrs. Clinton and her e-mail conduct. At one point he stated that as far as he could see there was no damage done to national security. You yourself from this podium have suggested that the investigation wasn’t trending toward any focus on Mrs. Clinton herself. I wonder if you could address for us the potential conflict of interest that might exist when the President of the United States, the head of the executive branch, is openly saying ‘I want this woman to succeed me in the Oval Office’ and you have other employees of the executive branch, career prosecutors, FBI agents working this case who have now just heard how the President wants to see this case resolved in essence. Isn’t there some conflict there?”
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: “James, there’s not. You noted instances where the President was asked about the FBI investigations. And in each of those answers the President made clear that that is being conducted independent of any sort of political interference. That is a principle that the President is resolutely committed. You mentioned my comments, my comments were actually also in response to a question and were a reference to a published reports of comments from FBI officials that — about the direction of the — of the investigation. But, look, the reason that the President feels confident that he can go out and make this endorsement and record a video in which he describes his strong support for Secretary Clinton’s campaign is that he knows the people who are conducting the investigation aren’t going to be swayed by any sort of political interference. They aren’t going to be swayed by political forces. They know that their investigation should be guided by the facts and that they should follow the evidence where it leads. The President has complete confidence that that’s exactly what they’ll do.”
REPORTER: “So when a career prosecutor or an FBI agent working on the Clinton investigation hears this President speak openly about how he wants Hillary Clinton to succeed him, you don’t think that that career prosecutor or that FBI agent takes that as some indication as to how the President wants to see this case resolved?”
EARNEST: “No. I think those career prosecutors understand that they have job to do, and that that job they are supposed to do — which is to follow the facts, to pursue the evidence to a logical conclusion — that’s a job that they are responsible for doing without any sort of political interference. And the president expects them to do that job, this is the reason that we actually ask career federal prosecutors to take the lead on these kinds of matters. They don’t have political jobs. They have career jobs as law enforcement officers and as prosecutors and investigators. That’s what their responsibility is. And that’s why the President when discussing this issue in each stage has reiterated his commitment to this principle that any criminal investigation should be conducted independent of any sort of political interference and that people should be treated the same way before the law regardless of their political influence, regardless of their political party, regardless of their political stature and regardless of what political figure has endorsed them.”
REPORTER: “Has President Obama ever discussed the Department of Justice investigation with Mrs. Clinton?”
EARNEST: “He has not.”
This is hardly a slip of the tongue. The bad blood between Obama and the Clintons is legendary and maybe he decided to simply do what he had to do in light of Clinton obviously clinching the nomination while making it clear that he had washed his hands of her. This doesn’t mean that the fix isn’t in but it does mean that for the first time the White House has admitted that the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email is criminal.
Possibly related. Today’s schedule for Obama
3:25PM THE PRESIDENT meets with Attorney General Lynch
UPDATE: Earnest Tries to Walk it Back