Donald Trump says he won't pursue an investigation of Hillary Clinton's many scandals, but that doesn't mean other ongoing investigations by the federal government shouldn't continue. (Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/SIPA/Newscom)
Clinton Scandals: Donald Trump now says he won't pursue Hillary Clinton on criminal charges for her email and Clinton Foundation scandals — despite pledging during the campaign to name a special prosecutor to investigate her possible crimes and, if she were found guilty, to "lock up" the Democratic nominee.
It's a smart move by the president-elect. In a sharply divided America, a personal vendetta is no way to start a presidency.
During the second presidential debate in October, Trump was blunt about what he intended to do: "If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception."
Now, he's having second thoughts. Just a week ago, he hinted on "60 Minutes" that he wouldn't pursue an investigation: "I don't want to hurt them. They're good people," he said of the Clintons.
He also said a possible prosecution would be "very, very divisive for the country."
Very statesmanlike and generous, though the media won't treat it that way. Besides Trump, as Hillary Clinton's opponent in the last election, would be unwise to spearhead an investigation of her. It's inappropriate for an elected official to pursue charges against a vanquished political foe who is now a private citizen, especially for what could be construed as political reasons.
Doing so would set a nasty precedent of victors in presidential elections charging their political foes with crimes — which is Banana Republic kind of stuff, not worthy of a great republic such as our own, which has prided itself on over 200 years of mostly smooth presidential transitions.
But that said, that doesn't mean we think Hillary and Bill Clinton should go scot-free if crimes are found to have been committed. We have written extensively about the possible criminality in both Hillary's email server scandal and the Clinton Foundation's own scandal. There is ample evidence of criminal wrongdoing in both.
Yet, while we agree Trump shouldn't himself do it, there are already investigations ongoing — and they definitely should notbe halted.
So, yes, it would be unseemly and frankly foolish for Trump to enter office and immediately focus on a criminal investigation when there's far more important stuff on his agenda, ranging from tax and regulatory reform to the repeal of ObamaCare and closing our porous borders. He'll have his hands full.
As we noted, there's already an ongoing investigation into the Clintons. It began under President Obama, not Trump, and it should not be shut down. Just because you run for president doesn't give you a get-out-of -jail free card. Meanwhile, Congress has also pledged to look into the allegations against the Clintons, which at minimum warrant a far deeper investigation, even if no criminal charges are forthcoming. Those who sell access to the federal government, no matter who they are, do not deserve clemency.
As of now, however, neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton has been charged with a crime. They deserve, as all citizens do, the presumption of innocence. Still, the investigations already underway should be allowed to take their course — and when they're completed, let the chips fall where they may.