NEW YORK – On the eve of the Democratic Party’s first debate for the 2016 presidential primary, Hillary Clinton remains the candidate to beat, advises investigative journalist Ed Klein, author of the recently published bestseller, “Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary.”
“Hillary remains formidable,” Klein told WND in a telephone interview.
Klein explained that her top political advisers still think Hillary will weather the current barrage of bad press occasioned largely by her continuing email controversy.
He acknowledges that, for Hillary, the scandals are beginning once again to pile up, with her upcoming testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, renewed interest in Bill Clinton’s sexual escapades and a developing scandal over alleged Clinton Foundation financial crimes.
‘Don’t count Hillary out’
But while Hillary is at the moment down, Klein is not willing to count her out.
“The political calculation of Hillary’s closest advisers is that she will tough out the recent bad press and get the nomination,” Klein said. “It doesn’t make any sense for conservatives or for Republicans to conclude about Hillary that she’s in such political trouble that there is no need to worry about her anymore.
“Well, maybe,” he surmised. “But what if you’re wrong? I think you should continue to worry about Hillary. Even if Hillary loses New Hampshire and Iowa, how well will Bernie Sanders do after that?
“Who knows?” Klein said in conclusion. “Maybe Hillary will get indicted, maybe her health will become a factor. But I still believe Hillary remains formidable. Think of all the times the Clintons have been in the mud, only to emerge smelling like roses.”
Klein said the FBI criminal investigation of her use of a private email server while secretary of state is “very serious.”
“But how many of these crises have the Clintons gone through?” he asked. “Bill being impeached as a sitting president was very serious, yet he managed to stay in office.”
‘Not sure Biden can beat Hillary’
Klein said he was not sure Vice President Joe Biden would enter the Democratic Party’s presidential race.
“A person who has known Biden for decades and spoke to him recently told me Biden simply hasn’t made up his mind yet, whether to go or not to go,” Klein said.
“Biden’s wife has already said publicly that if he wants to run, she will support him,” he continued. “For me, that really answers the family question.
“The question I think Biden has to ask himself is, can he win, can he beat Hillary Clinton,” he stressed. “I think that’s a huge question mark, in terms of the endorsements she’s received, the money her campaign has collected, a ground game that is well in place and an organization that the Clintons have built over a number of years.”
By contrast, he said, Biden is starting from scratch.
“If I had to guess, I think Hillary Clinton will be the nominee, and I have not spoken with a single conservative Republican who agrees with me. Without exception, every conservative Republican I’ve consulted is convinced that Hillary is a ‘cooked goose,’ and I think there is some wishful thinking going on here.”
‘Hillary not easily indicted’
Klein elaborated that Hillary Clinton’s legal advisers believe Department of Justice prosecutors will have difficulty bringing an indictment against her, even if she should fail to get the nomination.
“Hillary’s legal team has told her than indicting someone is very difficult, unless there is an airtight case,” he said. “The problem with the emails, for instance, is proving intent by establishing that Hillary intended to create a security breach.”
And if Hillary gets the Democratic Party nomination, Klein said her political advisers are telling her “it will be virtually impossible that she would be indicted.”
The only modern precedent for a major party nominee for president or vice president being forced to step down occurred in 1972, after it was disclosed that Democratic Party vice-presidential nominee Sen. Thomas Eagleton of Missouri had undergone shock therapy in treatment for depression.
“What would the Democratic Party have to do if she got indicted after she was nominated for president?” he asked.
The political pressure on the Department of Justice likely would rule it out.
In “Unlikeable,” Klein reported that President Obama had given White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett the FBI the green light to launch a criminal investigation into Hillary’s private email server.
Jarrett, Klein wrote, had reached the conclusion there was a 50-50 chance Hillary could be defeated and lose the White House to the 2016 GOP contender, with disastrous results for Obama’s legacy.
Obama and Jarrett concluded that of all the potential candidates, Biden could mount “the most potent challenge” to Hillary.
“All we know is the FBI criminal investigation into whether Hillary violated national security laws with her private email system is proceeding,” he said, “and while I’ve reported that one of Hillary’s oldest and most trusted legal advisers have advised her her to hire a criminal lawyer now, but I don’t know whether or not Hillary has done so yet.”
Klein said Jarrett has told Obama that the FBI investigation cannot be stopped at this point.
“Obama has asked Jarrett, at least on one occasion, if there is any way he could stop the criminal investigation now, before an indictment is handed down,” Klein said.
“Jarrett told Obama ‘No,’ that there is no way he do anything now because ‘the train has left the station and it’s unstoppable. That’s the advice Jarrett is giving Barack Obama now.”
Klein also explained that if the FBI investigation recommends indictment, there is no way Attorney General Loretta Lynch could refuse to go along.
“It’s the view of a lot of defense attorneys I’ve interviewed, plus political sources, that I have consulted that if the FBI recommends to the prosecutor that Hillary should be prosecuted, and the prosecutors recommend to Loretta Lynch to impanel a grand jury, then Loretta Lynch would have a hard time covering up what the FBI found,” he said.
“The consensus is that leaks and the ensuing public outcry would make it virtually impossible for Loretta Lynch to cover up a prosecutors’ recommendation that Hillary should be indicted,” he stressed.
The comeback kid
In an email alert sent Monday to subscribers on his website, Klein warned that Hillary’s advisers are confident that Tuesday’s debate will turn out to be Hillary’s “big night.”
“What’s more, they tell me that Hillary’s performance in the debate could very well mark the beginning of her unstoppable march to the Democratic nomination,” Klein wrote. “In short, Hillary may be unlikeable (as I call her in my new book), but she is not unelectable.
“Is this just a lot of political spin on the part of Hillary’s handlers?” he asked in the email. “Or are they justified in being optimistic? I think they may be on to something.”
Klein notes that after Hillary’s “Saturday Night Live” performance, she has gone on the attack.
“Over the past two weeks, she has slammed the Benghazi hearings as nothing more than a Republican-instigated political witch-hunt aimed at suppressing her poll numbers,” he continued.
“She’s bashed the Supreme Court and the National Rifle Association over the Second Amendment,” he added. “She’s thumbed her nose at Barack Obama by coming out against one of the president’s major foreign-policy goals, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
Klein warned that Hillary Clinton’s opposition research team, with her full approval, has been collecting dirt on Biden that it intends to release to the media if the vice president decides to enter the race.
“Hillary’s always at her most effective when her back is to the wall,” Klein quotes one of her longtime political advisers as saying. “After weeks of pounding and pummeling by the press, she’s mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore.”