WorldNetDaily has a report up today, as do other circling news services, which tells us that the FBI is quite anxious (to not put too much emphasis on it) to obtain a criminal indictment against Hillary Clinton for alleged crimes involving her personal email server during her tenure as Secretary of State. From all appearances we are very close to a critical point in the case. A statement issued to the press corps by Mr. Obama’s White House has divulged something which should not have been revealed by the Administration. From WND:
The Obama administration leveled a devastating blow to Hillary Clinton on Friday by admitting for the first time that her personal email server contained the highest levels of classified U.S. intelligence.
The White House said 22 emails from former secretary of state’s “home brew” server must be censored from public view when the State Department releases its final batch on Friday.
Diplomatic Security and Intelligence and Research bureaus will now try to determine if any of the emails were marked classified at the time of transmission, the Associated Press reported Friday…
Such a statement to the press corps can be used, and may very well be used later, by the defense team as an argument that the President contaminated the nation’s jury pool by releasing prejudicial information, jeopardizing Mrs. Clinton’s right to a fair and impartial jury trial.
Remember, real criminal trials are not like tabloid journalism and television shows about lawyers. People’s freedom can be at stake. There are strict rules of evidence to be followed. And it can be very difficult to seat a jury when so many potential jurors have been exposed to a lot of prejudicial pre-trial publicity – such as this press release today.
If the emails can’t be released to the public because they’re too sensitive, then don’t release them. Period. The President, at this point in the case, should refrain from publishing any opinion on the evidence – and stay out of this.
Politics is politics. This situation could potentially put people into prison.
If Mr. Obama is trying to do political damage to Mrs. Clinton as she runs for the Democratic nomination for President, for whatever reasons he may have, publicly commenting on the evidence which may be used against her in a grand jury proceeding or a criminal trial is not a good idea. It’s a very bad idea. He’s an attorney. He should know better.
He may find himself with a defense subpoena in his hand.
But, let’s go back to the issues at hand.
For an indictment to be handed down here is what must happen:
The Office of The Attorney General of the United States must first convene a federal grand jury to hear the evidence which has been gathered by the FBI and any other law enforcement investigators who have worked on the case to this point.
All grand juries conduct their proceedings in absolute secrecy.
Witnesses and the potential defendant, in this case Mrs. Clinton, are subpoenaed and sworn in one at a time, to testify under oath. No observers are allowed to be in the room during grand jury testimony. The potential defendant may either testify or invoke her 5th Amendment right not to incriminate herself, by refusing to answer any questions.
Defense attorneys are not allowed to be present to represent witnesses or the potential defendant. The questioning is led by, but not necessarily limited to, prosecuting attorneys. Who those attorneys might be will be the decision of the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch.
Once all of the evidence has been heard under sworn testimony, the grand jury deliberates in secrecy and takes a vote.
One of two documents will be handed down: A True bill or a No True Bill.
A No True Bill means that there was not enough evidence for the grand jury to hand down an indictment.
A True Bill means there was enough evidence presented to hand down an indictment, which is a formal accusation of a crime or crimes.
Next come all of preparations for a trial, re-interviews of the witnesses, pre-trial evidentiary hearings, much posturing and negotiating among all of the involved attorneys for the prosecution and the defense teams. A plea bargain may be struck or the case may proceed to a criminal trial. This pre-trial process could go on for years, depending upon how the attorneys and the Court decide to do their business.
While I will not speculate here as to how long the entire process might take, I think it safe to say one should not look for a speedy resolution to the Hillary Clinton case.
One more thought for you here:
There is a standing joke among defense attorneys about the burden of proof required for an indictment to be handed down by a grand jury. During my law enforcement career I heard this sentence spoken many times:
The joke is, “You can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.”
We shall see.
An indictment is an accusation. Short of an arranged guilty plea, a conviction at trial in a Court of Law is an entirely different, and extremely difficult, animal.