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Wednesday, November 23, 2016
What message does Trump's failure to prosecute Clinton send to DC?
"If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your [Hillary Clinton's] situation." This is what Donald Trump said last month. Now he says the exact opposite, that he is not going to prosecute her.
"I don't want to hurt the Clintons, I really don't,'' Mr. Trump said during a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times. "She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways, and I am not looking to hurt them at all.
Some Trump voters will feel betrayed, thinking Trump walked back a very, very explicit and recent campaign promise. Others will not be concerned, feeling that Clinton is old news and small potatoes given the important tasks Trump has to focus on.
Neither side will convince the other. Instead, I want to talk about the awful message this sends to the bureaucracy in Washington.
We know that liberals have been entrenched into the bureaucracy by eight years of Obama. Many of these bureaucrats will be eager to see Trump fail. Their primary means of sabotage will be through leaks to the media – leaks of Trump's intended plans to torpedo them, as well as leaks of Trump's current operations in an effort to discredit them. Maybe they will leak details about Trump's plans to fight ISIS, or Trump's plan to deal with illegal immigrants, or a whole host of other policies he might be considering.
Leaking government information is a crime. But if leakers see that Trump does not prosecute one of the biggest abusers of government privacy laws, security laws, and conflict of interest laws – namely, Hillary Clinton – they may feel that they too are immune from harm and may feel free to act.
Worse yet, this sends a troubling message to future Democratic administration where even worse abuses are rampant. When the Democrats retake the White House someday, and they will, they will merrily pick up where they left off, politicizing the Justice Department, IRS, and FBI, using these arms of the government to persecute citizens. If Trump showed them that he would hold misdeeds committed in past administrations to account, that might give future bureaucrats a second thought about violating the law. But with Trump "letting bygones be bygones," a future Democratic administration could again violate the law without a second thought.
That's why I think Trump's decision not to prosecute such a prominent example of corruption is troubling and sends the wrong message to Washington, D.C.