John wrote yesterday about how Barack Obama has been working behind the scenes to move large dollar Democratic donors away from Bernie Sanders and towards Hillary Clinton. This, combined with various attacks from his bully pulpit on Donald Trump, have led to the correct conclusion that Obama will wind up being one of the most active presidents in modern history in terms of the election of his successor. This was a point made this week by Juliet Eilperin at the Washington Post . Traditionally, Presidents have bent over backward to at least lend the patina of non-involvement in such an election, allowing the voters to make their own choice, but not so in this case.
But we learned something else from this episode if you’re willing to look into the tea leaves closely enough. Michelle Jesse came to the same conclusion I did yesterday.
But the bigger point is, why would President Obama tell his party to unite around a candidate at serious risk of criminal indictment — when all signs from the FBI would indicate a very good chance, if not a certainty, that indictment will be recommended based on the investigation? Of course, he would only do such a thing if he knew — was determined — that, no matter what, the chosen candidate would not be charged.
Hillary Clinton herself has appeared to think she’s untouchable — even declaring with certainty that she will not be indicted. “Oh, for goodness, it’s not going to happen. I’m not even answering that question,” Clinton said recently in Miami.
There’s a reason that these two stories are so closely interwoven. If Barack Obama were taking the usual stance of presidents past he would simply express his support for whichever Democrat the voters chose in the primary and get on with his life, but this cycle has a number of wildcards mixed into the deck. You’d be hard pressed to find a parallel in the history of American politics where a major party presidential candidate was on the verge of winning the nomination while simultaneously facing the threat of indictment on serious criminal charges. (We won’t count Nixon in 72 because the break-in at the Watergate hotel didn’t happen until June of that year and there wasn’t a conviction until after Nixon was reelected and sworn in the following January.)