Obama com­mits to Clin­ton and to in­ves­ti­ga­tion

White House in­sists fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors un­der no pres­sure

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVE BOYER AND S.A. MILLER

The White House in­sisted that Pres­i­dent Obama’s en­dorse­ment of Hil­lary Clin­ton, in­clud­ing gush­ing praise for her high “char­ac­ter,” won’t in­flu­ence the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her se­cret email sys­tem from her time as sec­re­tary of state.

Hours af­ter he en­dorsed Mrs. Clin­ton for pres­i­dent and praised her for “mak­ing history” as the first fe­male ma­jor-party nom­i­nee, Mr. Obama met pri­vately in the Oval Of­fice with At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch.

That meet­ing raised more ques­tions about po­lit­i­cal pres­sure on fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors to go easy on Mrs. Clin­ton.

Don­ald Trump, the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, said Mr. Obama was back­ing “crooked Hil­lary” in bid for a third term of his poli­cies. The chair­man of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, Reince Priebus, agreed that Mrs. Clin­ton is mak­ing history — as “the firstever pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to be un­der an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

White House press sec­re­tary Josh Earnest said Mr. Obama is “res­o­lutely com­mit­ted” to an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion and he feels con­fi­dent that FBI agents and other Jus­tice of­fi­cials won’t be in­flu­enced by the pres­i­dent’s sup­port of Mrs. Clin­ton.

“They aren’t go­ing to be swayed by po­lit­i­cal forces,” Mr. Earnest said. “They know that their in­ves­ti­ga­tion should be guided by the facts and that they should fol­low the ev­i­dence where it leads. The pres­i­dent has com­plete con­fi­dence that that’s ex­actly what they’ll do.”

He said the pres­i­dent has never dis­cussed the Jus­tice probe with Mrs. Clin­ton and that ca­reer Jus­tice pros­e­cu­tors treat the sub­jects of their in­ves­ti­ga­tions im­par­tially “re­gard­less of their po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence, re­gard­less of their po­lit­i­cal party, re­gard­less of their po­lit­i­cal stature and re­gard­less of what po­lit­i­cal fig­ure has en­dorsed them.”

The Jus­tice probe of Mrs. Clin­ton’s pri­vate email server and re­lease of clas­si­fied gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion re­mains the big­gest hur­dle for her can­di­dacy as Democrats move to con­sol­i­date their sup­port be­hind her.

Her ri­val for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion, Sen. Bernard San­ders of Ver­mont, met with Mr. Obama at the White House on last week and emerged sound­ing as if he is pre­par­ing to for­mally end his can­di­dacy af­ter the District of Columbia’s pri­mary next week.

“I am go­ing to do ev­ery­thing in my power, and I will work as hard as I can, to make sure that Don­ald Trump does not be­come pres­i­dent of the United States,” Mr. San­ders told re­porters at the White House.

He said of Mrs. Clin­ton, “I look for­ward to meet­ing with her in the near fu­ture to see how we can work to­gether to de­feat Don­ald Trump and to cre­ate a gov­ern­ment which rep­re­sents all of us and not just the 1 per­cent.”

About 90 min­utes later, Mr. Obama en­dorsed Mrs. Clin­ton in a video an­nounce­ment on YouTube that was recorded last Tues­day, around the time she was clinch­ing the del­e­gates needed for the nom­i­na­tion. Al­though the en­dorse­ment was hardly a sur­prise, it lent an air of con­fir­ma­tion about Mr. San­ders’ plan to con­cede.

“I know how hard this job can be,” the pres­i­dent said. “That’s why I know Hil­lary will be so good at it. She’s got the courage, the com­pas­sion and the heart to get the job done. I have seen her judg­ment. I have seen her tough­ness. I’ve seen her com­mit­ment to our val­ues up close.”

Mrs. Clin­ton wel­comed the en­dorse­ment with a Twit­ter post: “Hon­ored to have you with me, @PO­TUS. I’m fired up and ready to go!”

The post on the Clin­ton cam­paign Twit­ter ac­count was signed “H,” which is sup­posed to in­di­cate that Mrs. Clin­ton wrote the mes­sage her­self.

The Clin­ton cam­paign quickly an­nounced that Mr. Obama, whose job ap­proval rat­ing has been con­sis­tently above the key thresh­old of 50 per­cent this year, will make his first cam­paign ap­pear­ance with Mrs. Clin­ton in Green Bay, Wis­con­sin.

“Pres­i­dent Obama and Clin­ton will dis­cuss build­ing on the progress we’ve made and their vi­sion for an Amer­ica that is stronger to­gether,” the cam­paign said in a state­ment.

The pres­i­dent, alarmed by Mr. Trump’s can­di­dacy and be­liev­ing the Repub­li­can isn’t fit to hold the of­fice, has been ea­ger to jump into the cam­paign fray on Mrs. Clin­ton’s be­half.

In his en­dorse­ment of Mrs. Clin­ton, the pres­i­dent said, “I don’t think there’s ever been some­one so qual­i­fied to hold this of­fice.”

The White House later amended that state­ment and said pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates who served as vice pres­i­dent, such as Al Gore, could be con­sid­ered as bet­ter qual­i­fied.

Mr. Earnest noted that Mrs. Clin­ton has served as sec­re­tary of state, as a U.S. sen­a­tor and eight years as first lady, a post that al­lowed her to “travel the world.”

Mr. Trump was suc­cinct in his re­ac­tion to the pres­i­dent’s en­dorse­ment. “Obama just en­dorsed Crooked Hil­lary,” the Repub­li­can said on Twit­ter. “He wants four more years of Obama — but no­body else does!”

Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Reince Priebus said Mr. Obama’s en­dorse­ment shows that Mrs. Clin­ton “is run­ning to give Pres­i­dent Obama’s failed po­lices a third term.”

“Pres­i­dent Obama has tram­pled the Con­sti­tu­tion, buried our coun­try in $9 tril­lion of crush­ing new debt, presided over the weak­est econ­omy in a gen­er­a­tion and, with Clin­ton’s help, pur­sued a weak and dan­ger­ous for­eign pol­icy that has made us less safe, Mr. Priebus said.

He said Mrs. Clin­ton, while sec­re­tary of state, “put our na­tional se­cu­rity at risk with her il­licit email server, which she de­vised to skirt gov­ern­ment trans­parency laws and ob­scure her un­eth­i­cal deal­ings as the na­tion’s top diplo­mat.”

“Hil­lary Clin­ton is the first-ever pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to be un­der an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and her cor­rupt fam­ily foun­da­tion that has taken mil­lions from for­eign gov­ern­ments is an un­prece­dented con­flict of in­ter­est,” Mr. Priebus said. “I don’t think there’s been a can­di­date for this of­fice more un­eth­i­cal and un­trust­wor­thy than Hil­lary Clin­ton.”

It’s un­clear when Jus­tice of­fi­cials might con­clude their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mrs. Clin­ton’s pri­vate email server, which Mr. Earnest re­ferred to as a crim­i­nal probe.

Al­though Mr. San­ders will com­pete in the fi­nal pri­mary next week, he said his cam­paign will fo­cus on pro­mot­ing state­hood for the District of Columbia rather than his own can­di­dacy.

The so­cial­ist said Mr. Trump would be “a dis­as­ter” as pres­i­dent.

“It is un­be­liev­able to me, and I say this in all sin­cer­ity, that the Repub­li­can Party would have a can­di­date for pres­i­dent who in the year 2016 makes big­otry and dis­crim­i­na­tion the cornerstone of his cam­paign,” Mr. San­ders said. “In my view, the Amer­i­can peo­ple will not vote for or tol­er­ate a can­di­date who in­sults Mex­i­cans and Lati­nos, who in­sults Mus­lims, who in­sults African-Amer­i­cans and women.”

Mr. San­ders drew huge crowds around the coun­try in his up­start cam­paign and has given Mrs. Clin­ton an un­ex­pect­edly tough bat­tle with his rhetoric ac­cus­ing her of cozy­ing up to Wall Street.

He didn’t say ex­plic­itly that he would con­cede and promised to keep push­ing for more gen­er­ous So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits, bet­ter health care, higher tu­ition aid and more spend­ing on in­fra­struc­ture.

“These are some of the is­sues that many mil­lions of Amer­i­cans have sup­ported dur­ing my cam­paign,” he said. “These are the is­sues that we will take to the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Philadel­phia at the end of July.”

He took no ques­tions from re­porters and walked away from shouted ques­tions with his wife, Jane.

The Ver­mont in­de­pen­dent’s meet­ing with the pres­i­dent lasted more than one hour. He praised Mr. Obama and Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den for “the de­gree of im­par­tial­ity” in the Demo­cratic pri­mary.

“They said they would not put their thumb on the scales, and they kept their word,” Mr. San­ders said. “I ap­pre­ci­ate that greatly.”

With some sup­port­ers urg­ing Mr. San­ders to press on to­ward the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion next month, Mr. Obama had the del­i­cate job of try­ing to show a clear end to the pri­mary sea­son so he and Mrs. Clin­ton could fo­cus on cam­paign­ing against Mr. Trump.

But Mr. Obama doesn’t want to ap­pear to be too heavy-handed with Mr. San­ders be­cause Mrs. Clin­ton will need his mil­lions of lib­eral sup­port­ers in the gen­eral elec­tion.

AS­SO­CIATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Obama meets with Sen. Bernard San­ders hours be­fore he en­dorsed Hil­lary Clin­ton and praised her for “mak­ing history” as the first fe­male ma­jor-party nom­i­nee.

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