Commentary: Despite scandals, Clinton has the nomination

The first thing to know is that the only thing that will prevent Hillary Rodham Clinton from getting the Democratic presidential nomination is her being indicted.

The second thing to know is that she will never be indicted, at least, not before Jan. 20, 2017. It is silly to imagine that Barack Obama’s Justice Department will indict his party’s presidential front-runner, almost no matter what evidence the FBI turns up regarding her e-mails and her private server.

The third thing to know is that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. knows all this full well. Since he could not see a straightforward path to derailing Mrs. Clinton, he has withdrawn, even though he surely still wants to be president of the United States.

The fourth thing to know is that Biden doesn’t have to actually run for the nomination in the primaries in order to be the Democratic nominee. That is because if Mrs. Clinton falters for some other reason, or some reason related to the above, Biden is still available and can be nominated at the Democratic National Convention next summer.

It now appears that Mrs. Clinton has escaped the hearing before the House Benghazi committee relatively unscathed. She got some help from the Democrats on the committee, of course. But she seems to have deflected most of the ire otherwise. True, she is responsible for much of the mess. But this is getting to be a very old story for most of the media and most Americans. Fox News will continue to work on it, but not many others.

The e-mail situation is somewhat different. There, the “enemy” is not Fox News or Republicans in the House, but rather, the FBI. It has been widely reported that many FBI agents were outraged a week or so ago when President Obama made some derogatory references to what evidence might be found. The agents think they are still investigating.

Beyond that, Mrs. Clinton — while admitting it was a mistake to employ the private server, located in her Chappaqua, N.Y., home — says something like this when discussing the allegation that classified information came and went through that unsecured server.

“Nothing I received or sent was marked classified.” Well, of course not. This is an artful and misleading word formulation designed to distract the vast majority of Americans who have never worked with classified materials. Indeed, both words are misleading.

Let’s take “marked” first. Printed classified materials are marked with the appropriate classification at the top and bottom of every page. Levels of classification, to simplify, are “Confidential,” “Secret” and “Top Secret.” In addition, there is a cover sheet printed in green, red or blue appropriate to the classification level.

E-mails are not marked in this way. The rule on e-mails is that classified materials only may be sent via a secure Internet system. This implies encryption. The Department of Defense and Department of State have such secure e-mail systems. Persons dealing in classified information are required to use them for such.

Next word: “Classified.” Nothing is ever marked “classified.” It is marked confidential, secret or top secret. Some, perhaps a lot, of Top Secret material also is marked with a suffix that further restricts its use to a compartmentalized group.

At least in the military, when an officer or enlisted soldier receives a Secret or Top Secret clearance, they go to a class on how to handle it. I’m sure the State Department has such a class, too. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton skipped the class.

But that doesn’t, either morally or legally, absolve her of knowing that classified material can’t be handled on a non-secure server. Nor does it absolve her of knowing what is classified even if it isn’t marked. When you reach high office, you are expected to know such things.

Gen. David Petraeus, whom the Obama administration threw under the bus for something like this, undoubtedly knew that sharing his classified notebooks with his biographer was wrong. He pleaded guilty for it.

Lewis “Scooter” Libby, then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, didn’t even breach security, but still was sentenced to prison for lying to the FBI when the identity of Valerie Plame was revealed.

But whether Mrs. Clinton has either violated the classification laws or lied to someone where lying is a felony, she won’t be prosecuted in this cycle. That is because it is inconceivable that Barack Obama would approve the Justice Department taking this to a grand jury, much less permit an indictment of the presumptive Democratic nominee. Obama is one of the most partisan presidents in U.S. history. Like Mrs. Clinton, but unlike Vice President Biden, Obama considers Republicans “the enemy,” not the “opposition,” as Biden put it the other day.

In this mindset, the goal in dealing with those who oppose you is not to defeat them, but to crush and destroy them. This has been the Clinton style since Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992.

Hence, Mrs. Clinton has the nomination. Get over it.

Editor’s note: Reid K. Beveridge has covered politics in Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Delaware and Washington, D.C. He is now retired at Broadkill Beach. Beveridgere@prodigy.net.

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