November 22nd, 2016

Trump won’t pursue charges against Clinton

Is anyone surprised at this newest iteration of the kinder, gentler Trump?:

President-elect Donald Trump won’t subject Hillary Clinton to a criminal inquiry — instead, he’ll help her heal, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.

“I think when the president-elect who’s also the head of your party … tells you before he’s even inaugurated he doesn’t wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone and content, to the members,” Kellyanne Conway told the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” who first reported that the president-elect would not pursue his campaign pledge to “lock up” Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

“Look, I think, he’s thinking of many different things as he prepares to become the president of the United States, and things that sound like the campaign are not among them,” Conway, who is now on the Trump transition team, said in her interview.

I also think that Trump is probably correct if he calculates that the vast majority of his supporters will forgive him for not pushing the prosecution of Clinton. They are too happy right now about his victory, and the prospects for the future.

At least the Trump administration is admitting Trump lied during the campaign (although they don’t use the l-word). I suppose, if you want to look at it in a good light, that admission of the obvious is somewhat refreshing, compared to denying it.

As for me, I already knew that Trump lies a lot. Most of you—even many of his supporters—were well aware of it, too. The real question is what was he lying about, and when is he telling the truth. It never seemed to me as though he was serious about pursuing Clinton, and I suspect that at least a certain proportion of his supporters just felt it was a fun game to shout “Lock her up!” during the campaign, a kind of cheerleading hyperbole before the Big Game.

I don’t like this business of lying—but hey, I’m not a politician. At least, since Trump was elected, he seems to be jettisoning some of his worst posturing and adopting a more reasonable tone. So he’s been discarding many of the things I wasn’t in favor of, and adopting some I was. Of course, we don’t know if this more reasonable Trump tone is just another pose by a poseur extraordinaire. But time will tell, as action (or inaction, or contrary action) follows words.

[NOTE: Could there be some relation between not prosecuting Clinton and news like this?]

44 Responses to “Trump won’t pursue charges against Clinton”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    Nothing was said about Cheryl Mills and lawyer David Kendall. After a subpoena was issued by Congress for Hillary’s emails and speaking with Mills and Kendall, the Platte River Networks guy destroyed the documents.

    This is not over with Jeff Sessions in charge at Justice.

  2. Fact Bully Says:

    …the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” who first reported that the president-elect would not pursue his campaign pledge to “lock up” Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

    Did Trump actually “pledge” this? I don’t remember that, though I’m not saying he didn’t. He did make a remark about her being in jail during one of the debates, but that wasn’t a “pledge”.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    I will go on record as saying I strongly believe Clinton will not be prosecuted.

  4. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    I’ve seen it pointed out that, even if a President Trump doesn’t actively pursue Hillary Clinton, he doesn’t really have to. If he cleans house at DOJ and the FBI — which he really ought to do regardless — then Hillary will reap the consequences, without Trump having to say or do anything.

    For what it’s worth, you could also see this as a trial balloon, which Trump seems to be fond of. He stakes out an outlandish position, waits for everyone to pounce, then moderates his position. Is this another such, waiting to see if his voters scream in outrage? Perhaps.

    I agree that Trump is acting a lot more Presidential than a lot of us thought he had in him. Time will tell.

  5. expat Says:

    I think you are right, Neo. If the Clintons can’t get any richer by selling acccess, most people will be satisfied. They should, however, forget about getting Chelsea into te line of sucession. Maybe she could learn to bake cookies for her kids.

  6. Richard Saunders Says:

    Neo — I wish she were going to be prosecuted, but I’m afraid you’re right. What that means in Comey’s case is up for grabs. I still think he needs to go, but that might not happen either. If he doesn’t prosecute her, he should at least pardon Petraeus, Cartwright, and Kristian Saucier.

    BTW, I don’t consider making a campaign promise and then reneging on it to be lying. Lying is when you state something as a fact which you know at the time to be inconsistent with objective reality. Making and then not fulfilling campaign promises may be reprehensible, but it’s not lying.

    Daniel in Brookline — as I’ve said so many times here before, he’s negotiating.

  7. Jim Doherty Says:

    the left is doing what they always do when they lose. They are “whipping” everyone to behave as they want. Now I see that Trump has disavowed the alt-right, as per the lefts demands. Once you start down this road, everything you do can be veto’d by a big enough hissy fit.

    Next to go is the wall.

    And this goes back to what I said in the primaries, the media knew Cruz would follow through. Trump meh, we will see. If he is already jumping through their hoops, look for a big primary challenge in 2020. Trumpkins will take anything he dishes out for a bit, but in two years when they give repubs another 10 senate seats, and still have to listen to excuses, they will find someone else.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Richard Saunders:

    Nope—it’s lying when you say the equivalent of “this is what I am going to do, this is what I plan to do” when you actually know as you say it that you do not plan to do it and will not do it.

    I am fairly sure that that was the case with this “lock her up” business of Trump’s and many other things he has said. It was theater for the rubes.

  9. Cornhead Says:

    I just don’t want Trump to waste political capital on prosecuting Hillary. He needs to get his agenda passed. But Cheryl Mills and David Kendall are a different matter. Lock those two up.

  10. Cap'n Rusty Says:

    If Trump thinks that if he “makes nice,” or “acts magnanimously,” those he vanquished will begin to like him, he is making a big mistake. Our enemy does not share our values.

    On the other hand, this might be purely political. In light of Trump’s move, it will be difficult for Obama to justify pardoning Hillary (not that Obama ever felt obligated to justify anything). The clock for the pardon runs out 1/20/17. Trump could change his mind.

  11. Jim Doherty Says:

    One caveat. There is this talk about electors going rogue etc. Remember Trump is not President yet. He is the kind of guy to wait and play nice until he has the power he needs.

    Once again had a convo with my boss, who always seems to peg these things, and yes another $50 bet is on the table. I said Trump would drop clinton probe like the insider he really is, boss said that Trump will wait until he is sworn in, and then respond for real.

    So he has been right about several bets, obama’s reelection the most painful.

    Anyway, he thinks Trump will do or say just about anything in this dead time, and then you will see the real Trump only once he becomes Pres. I gave him 3 months after inauguration day, and he says fine.

    Also, not prosecuting her does not mean he will not investigate and make public all evidence. There are several ways to skin a cat. And reigniting his base in a couple few months, then once again setting it aside to show how sweet he really is may be in the cards.

  12. I'm with Decius Says:

    Remember when the Left was going to prosecute Bush and Cheney for war crimes? Campaign rhetoric. And Clinton’s done, she’s not an enemy any more, so I don’t think Trump really cares about pursuing this. Personally, I’d rather he prosecuted people at the VA and the IRS.

    Salena Zito had the best observation: Trump’s supporters take him seriously, but not literally. So I don’t think they’ll be too upset either.

  13. JuliB Says:

    I’m glad he’s not going to pursue her. She’s guilty as sin, but this would send the country into non-stop turmoil (worse than we’ve ever seen it). It would be spun as revenge, and most people would believe that.

    It gains him nothing.

  14. Paul in Boston Says:

    I think the Watergate model is the right way to go. Prosecute absolutely everyone involved in the State Department and Clinton Foundation corruption to the maximum extent of the law but leave Hillary and Bill as unindicted co-conspirators. If Trump then offers them pardons and they accept, it’s an acknowlegement of their guilt.

  15. CapnRusty Says:

    It isn’t about what it gains Trump. It’s what it gains us, the little people. Which is the return of the rule of law. It’s all we have, really.

  16. Cornhead Says:

    And now Trump may stick with the global warming agreement done at Paris.

    The guy is as erratic as we all thought.

  17. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I too think Trump is playing a waiting game. I’m doubtful that he’ll actively move to prosecute Hillary but if in the future, new evidence emerges that’s damning enough, I think he’d give Sessions free rein.

    It’s still a tossup as to what will happen but I see much more circumstantial evidence that Trump still intends to drain the swamp than the opposite. For if he’s going to renege on his promises, what purpose does appointing Bannon, Sessions, Flynn and Pompeo serve? All are advocates of draining the swamp…

  18. Yankee Says:

    This is actually not a bad strategy. There’s only so much that can be done in any administration, and a President has to stay focused. Mr. Trump should concentrate on getting the main items on his agenda done first. It would be too easy to get derailed, especially with mass opposition from the other party and the media combined.

    Besides that, prosecution is always something that can be held in reserve if the other side starts acting out, as a sort of threat to keep them in line. And it may be enough to have an investigation, without filing charges, or just limit things to yanking security clearances.

    Lastly, just putting out the existing information and evidence of what both Obama and Hillary did, not just the e-mail servers, but also the Iran deal, the Benghazi attack, the IRS targeting the Tea Party, and on and on, all of that could be useful in politically damaging the other party, and then convicting them, but in the court of public opinion.

  19. Jim Miller Says:

    We can start taking seriously what Trump said during the campaign when Melania — who is very probably an ilegal immigrant — is on a plane back to Slovenia.

    (If you missed that story, look for what the Associated Press learned about her working here when she didn’t have a work visa. An earlier story by a different news organization didn’t quite get the facts right, but the AP did, as far as I can tell.)

  20. CV Says:

    The Politico article says the Trump Foundation’s “…admission appears to validate extensive reporting by The Washington Post showing that Trump used foundation money to settle legal disputes for his companies and to buy a portrait of himself.”

    Good to see the WaPo aggressively investigating shady dealings at presidential (or in this case soon-to-be presidential) foundations! A refreshing change of pace.

  21. Jim Miller Says:

    There is a question about Hillary’s server I haven’t seen anyone else address: What did President Obama know about the server, and when did he know it?

    We now know that some of his aides knew aout it from the beginning, because they had to enter addresses from it into the White House system.

    I have gone back and forth on this, but I now believe that Obama knew about it quite early. I came to that conclusion partly because I think that Obama, as a matter of routine, would have put a person or two in the State Department, who were there to spy on Clinton and her aides.

    I am not a lawyer, so I can only wonder whether that makes him an accessory after the fact.

  22. J.J Says:

    Trump does not have to, and probably won’t, pursue the cases against Hillary. On the other hand, Jason Chaffetz said he is going to press ahead with the investigation of her for lying to Congress while under oath. And the FBI is probably still investigating the Clinton Foundation for RICO charges. Hillary has plenty to worry about without Trump getting involved.

    He may ultimately be in a position to be magnanimous and pardon her. Might enrage his base, but would make him look very good to many.

  23. Steve S Says:

    President-elect Trump is not President Trump. What President-elect Trump chooses to say or do should not be considered as what President Trump might choose to say or do.

    For that matter, and based on his performance during the primaries, what President Trump says or does this month should not be relied upon either.

  24. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve S:

    Take it one hour at a time?

  25. Mr. Frank Says:

    The two guys who are facing prison for doing less than Hillary should be pardoned.

  26. Steve S Says:

    I don’t know about one hour at a time, but we know that consistency is not his strong suit. Then again, that’s true for a goodly number of politicians. I just hope that we don’t have a Red Queen on our hands, demanding that we believe six impossible things before breakfast. Cheers!

  27. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    If it’s true that the FBI is investigating the Clinton Foundation, then we’ll see what turns up. Isn’t Trump being a bit premature, when we don’t know yet whether there’s an FBI investigation or if so, what it will conclude? Perhaps he doesn’t realize that whether the FBI continues to pursue this issue isn’t up to him, either now or after January 20?

  28. Richard Saunders Says:

    Neo — I would certainly agree with you if there were any evidence to support your opinion.

    Jim Miller — already debunked, dude — her agent showed her legal admission papers. And pay attention — Obama used a handle to communicate with Hillary on her server between 15-18 times.

  29. Jim Miller Says:

    Richard Saunders – I believe you are thinking of an earlier story, not by AP.

    Here’s the AP story:

    “Melania Trump was paid for 10 modeling jobs in the United States worth $20,056 that occurred in the seven weeks before she had legal permission to work in the country, according to detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago provided to The Associated Press.”

    You will notice there is no correction to the story.

  30. Jim Miller Says:

    Richard Saunders – There are people who pay no attention to email addresses, seeing only the names of the people they are emailing.

    There are, I am told, email systems that do not, automatically, display email addresses.

    Without knowing those two things, we can not be absolute=ly certain that Obama knew about Hillary’s private server, though, as I said, I think it very likely.

    Even if he did see the odd email address, I doubt that he is enough of a techie to make the inference I would have made.

  31. groundhog Says:

    Presidents seem reluctant to go after vanquished peers in that one day they may be in the same position.

    That’s one of my guesses.

  32. groundhog Says:

    Here’s my second guess.

    Hillary is probably privy to everything Bill Clinton knew.

    Maybe the unspoken secret is we can only do so much to these people because they are full of information. So there is lots and lots of handwaving about jail but ultimately everyone ends up as Nixon at worse.

  33. Matt_SE Says:

    Hillary will not be prosecuted because Trump doesn’t give a shit about justice or pleasing his base. He’ll do what’s good for Trump and the rest of us can sod off.
    What a coward.

  34. Chester Draws Says:

    Presidents seem reluctant to go after vanquished peers in that one day they may be in the same position.

    The only way that Trump won’t be in the same position is if he dies in office.

    He’s not the sort of man to worry greatly about rules, so it will surprise me greatly if he manages to leave office without falling foul of some law or other.

  35. Sergey Says:

    Trump is generous and magnanimous, he always ready to give his opponents enough rope to hang themselves, and with his irresistible smile encourage them to do just that.

  36. Yann Says:

    Even if Clinton is guilty (and she surely is), jailing your political adversary is a bad precedent. He should stay away of it.

    It’s a good sign he does.

  37. Tom G Says:

    Pursuing justice – fair & thorough investigation, fair access to defense for the accused, clear and known laws – justice should be the goal. If that means sending a political opponent to trial, and if guilty, to prison, then so be it.

    Neo, I’m pretty sure by your own definition Trump is not “lying” — whenever he says he WILL do something he means he MIGHT do that thing, under the right situation.

    You say: “it’s lying when you say the equivalent of “this is what I am going to do, this is what I plan to do” when you actually know as you say it that you do not plan to do it and will not do it. <<

    I am consistently of the belief that Trump does NOT know what, exactly, he will do or even plans to do in the near, mid, nor far future — and he almost never knows what he will not do.

    Or perhaps he has a) plan to do this, and simultaneously, with different circumstances, b) plan to NOT do this. So at one time, he says his plan is a), at another time he says his plan is b). In both cases his real plan is "depending on the situation", but he's not gonna confuse us with accurate or complete details about when it's plan a, or when plan b.

    ALL of his promises are … negotiating positions.

    This is different than "I am against gay marriage" — but then favoring it.
    It is different than "You can keep your doctor", when the speaker knows the proposed policy won't allow you to keep your doctor.

    Hmm, maybe it really IS about the same as having an "evolved" position on gay marriage. And even have that evolution vacillate a few times.

    Plus, I have no doubt that, once Trump does have power, there will be many similar lies to the "You can keep your doctor", but those lies do seem to me different than having multiple possible plans and, for different groups, stating different plans.

    Let's remember — every Dem senator supported to accept Pres. Clinton in perjury, lying about what he did, under oath. Trump's lies haven't yet come close to this – tho I fear and even expect him to descend to that low level.

    I'm still happy Clinton lost — and hope somebody in gov't prosecutes her seriously, and fairly.

  38. Kyndyll G Says:

    Nothing says “banana republic” like jailing people who represent the preceding administration. While I agree that Hillary Clinton is a slimy, corrupt, lying bag of excrement (there’s a reason I voted for Trump, who I don’t like, to do my small part to defeat her), it’s the wiser step to move on. If I were him, I’d keep options open if the swamp yields damning evidence that can’t be ignored, but I wouldn’t make a high-priority issue of prosecuting her.

  39. neo-neocon Says:

    Tom G:

    It is always possible to rationalize a lie. In fact, some big liars convince themselves that their lies are the truth, even though they know better.

    If I don’t know whether I’m going to do something—if I might do it, but I have huge doubts about it—it’s a lie to say I’m going to do it.

    If I’m 50/50 on prosecuting Hillary Clinton, I don’t have rallies where I chant with many thousands of people, “Lock her up!” and promise to do so. I don’t hold it out to the public that I have every intention of doing so when I don’t.

    Now, politicians certainly do that sort of thing. But it’s a lie.

    Personally, I don’t think that Trump ever had any intention of prosecuting her. Among other things, she’s an old friend of his, as is Bill. I think he lied, period, and unequivocally. But even if your theory is right and he thought “well, perhaps I will, it’s a possibility of some sort,” that’s not the way he portrayed it.

    But “maybe, perhaps, I’ll push for prosecuting her” doesn’t go over very big at rallies, does it?

    Long ago I said that ALL of Trump’s positions are mutable. That means he can say anything, and it’s not a lie? That’s absurd. If they are all mutable, it’s a lie to act as though your mind is made up and you will follow through. Trump is a wily guy, and he knows what he’s doing.

  40. Big Maq Says:

    “It isn’t about what it gains Trump. It’s what it gains us, the little people. Which is the return of the rule of law. It’s all we have, really.” – CapnRusty

    Heard that part so many times here as the reason we should all vote for trump.

    Got a lot of jeers and mockery when I said I doubted he’s the guy to do it.

    Be prepared for more disappointment, as the onion of theatrical remonstration of lies gets pealed back.

  41. El Polacko Says:

    Why waste time and resources on the Clintons?

    They are just the hired help and their little empire is already crumbling because they have no influence to peddle.

    I’d rather see a Trump Justice Department and the Congress go hammer and tongs on George Soros and the rest of the rabble rousing, bloody handed financiopaths at the Democracy Alliance.

    These are the guys sending rent a mobs out to riot, destroy private property and even kill people, usually in overwhelming Democrat controlled metro areas where the police have had their hands tired by elected officials sympathetic to the cause.

    There is obvious collusion going all the way up to the DoJ and the Executive Branch in all of this.

    It started with the astroturfed Occupy Wall Street movement and continues to this day with Black Lives Matter and the Trump protests.

    If that isn’t a RICO investigation looking for a place to land, I don’t know what is.

    Preet Bohara, call your office.

  42. LordAzrael Says:

    It was always a false narrative that trump was going to personally chase down Hillary – that’s not the way the system works.

    Trump appoints an Attorney General. The Attorney General then can appoint a special prosecutor based on recommendations from the FBI. So if Trump gets an AG who clears house of the demo operatives in the DoJ and FBI, given the uprising from agents on the ground in the FBI it will naturally progress to a recommendation to appoint.

    All Trump then has to do is stand back, shrug his shoulders and state that the AG is independent, and it would be inappropriate to interfere with that independence.

    As they say, trump is playing 4D chess while the media is playing tic tac toe.

  43. Ymarsakar Says:

    Clintons were the ones that got Trum into the REpublican primary. He’s probably paying back an unintended favor, now that he feels like the King of America and gracious/magnanimous in victory.

    Like most Democrats with power, they can appear to be very lenient when things go their way. When things don’t go their way…

  44. Ymarsakar Says:

    Of course, Trum is also poking the Alt Right to see what he can get away with. When his supporters and worshippers go “yup, not a problem, leave it to us”, Trum can stay the course. If the Alt Right starts to falter and people start internal criticism, Trum can reverse and say various excuses once again. It’s not a problem.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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