On Sunday, FBI Director James Comey announced the bureau’s findings following the latest Hillary Clinton email scandal. Namely, that there were no new findings.
“We reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State,” reported Comey. “Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”
For the Clintons, it was obviously familiar territory. Scandal has stalked these two from the beginning of their political careers, all the way back to the 1970s — remember Troopergate?
Where some see the Clintons’ propensity for public drama as a sign of profound and congenital shadiness, others see an actual “vast right-wing conspiracy” at work. Wherever you come down on Clinton, one thing is indisputable: The vast majority of her public scandals have culminated in begrudged public exonerations. And however tarnished she’s emerged from these investigations, none of them have ever amounted to the fatal blow her critics had hoped for.
The Email Scandal
In parallel to the Benghazi investigation, it was revealed that Clinton used a private email server while Secretary of State, which remained the focal point of attacks against her despite the FBI concluding: “Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case… We cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges … We are expressing to [the Justice Department] our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.”
On September 11, 2012, when Hillary was Secretary of State, militants attacked the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens. According to the “lock her up” crowd, Clinton failed to provide adequate security for the consulate, lied when she claimed that the attacks were spontaneous, and even knew about the attacks ahead of time.
A lengthy House Committee investigation led by Republicans, and the longest and costliest in history, finally published its findings this June, and while it did find security at the consulate lacking and was critical of the administration in general, the report found no evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton.
Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) put it best: “Nothing could have affected what occurred in Benghazi.”
With so many investigations, it was almost inevitable that something would turn up, and in 1996 it appeared that something had. Investigators found hundreds of FBI files on government employees, including congressional Republicans, that had been illegally requested and received by Craig Livingstone, director of the White House’s Office of Personnel Security.
In the end, the brewing scandal was investigated by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Whitewater Independent Counsel, but again no one found any wrongdoing on the part of the Clintons.
Said Federal Judge Royce Lamberth: “After years of litigation, endless depositions, the fictionalized portrayal of this lawsuit and its litigants on television, this court is left to conclude that with the lawsuit, to quote Gertrude Stein, ‘there’s no there there.’”
The death of Vince Foster began as a tragedy, became something of a scandal, then became a full-blown conspiracy theory that refused to die, which was defibrillated once again by Donald Trump on the campaign trail.
When White House lawyer Vince Foster committed suicide in a Virginia park in 1993, conservatives were quick to raise questions of foul play. In the end, the Clintons were vindicated entirely. Foster had long-struggled with depression, and investigations by both the FBI and the Justice Department ruled the death a suicide.
According to the report by Ken Starr: “In sum, based on all of the available evidence, which is considerable, the Office of Independent Counsel agrees with the conclusion reached by every official entity that has examined the issue: Mr. Foster committed suicide by gunshot in Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993.”
Never forget Travelgate. Just after Bill Clinton entered the White House, seven people from the White House’s travel department were let go. Conservatives claimed the presidential couple were trying to make room for more Clinton allies, and that the first lady was behind the firings, and — again — brought in the FBI to investigate.
And again, the FBI didn’t find anything. This being the Clintons, the Justice Department and a separate congressional panel investigated the firings, but in the end even Ken Starr and his successor Robert Ray had to admit there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
From Independent Counsel, Robert Ray: “The evidence, however, is insufficient to show that Mrs. Clinton knowingly intended to influence the Travel Office decision.”
The very first major Clinton scandal became something of a blueprint for the others to follow: a massive public investigation targeting the Clintons manages to uncover some shady stuff, and even garner a few jail sentences, just nothing on the Clintons themselves.
The scandal hinged on contributions the Clintons made to a real-estate entity known as Whitewater Development Corporation. While the Clintons’ partners did eventually face legal action a lengthy public investigation found no wrongdoing on the Clintons’ part.
Again from Robert Ray: “This office determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct.”