12) What are the implications of an indictment and prosecution?
The lightest possible sentencing would be the same misdemeanor charge David Petreaus pled for mishandling classified information. This would lead to a $100,000, her losing her security clearance and a two-year probation from public service. Apparently it has already been discussed whether or not Clinton would be stripped of her security clearance to handle classified information. It will be interesting to see how she will be able to execute her duties as Commander-in-Chief if she is unable to look at, or handle classified information.
If the FBI recommends an indictment and the DOJ intends to follow through on it, she may challenge the FBI’s finding and take her case to the 8-person Supreme Court.
But the real question is, if Hillary Clinton is recommended for indictment by the FBI, even if the DOJ doesn’t prosecute, what happens in the Presidential race?
Hillary Clinton must either withdraw her name from the Democratic primary, or continue to deny wrongdoing and hope that she will still do well enough during the remaining primary states.
There has even been discussion of Obama pardoning Clinton, especially if only misdemeanor charges are brought against her. But would Hillary still be able to sustain her bid for the Presidency if she is found guilty of any crime? Even if on paper she may be absolved, that’s a damning admission that will likely haunt her in a general election. But if Obama was going to pardon her to erase this problem, he could have done so at any time.
Bernie Sanders now trails Clinton by 288 delegates and it seems like a longshot for him to secure another 988 delegates to win the nomination. However, 22 states have yet to vote and if the tide turns against Hillary Clinton, this Presidential race could be flipped upside down.
Here is Mark Jones a political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute
“Clinton would most likely exit the race if indicted.” If she withdraws, then effectively she “can relieve all of her delegates from their pledge” to support her at the Democratic National Convention in July
If Clinton bows out of the race, it is most likely that Bernie Sanders becomes the Democratic Nominee.
However, Jones argues that if Clinton bows out we would see a brokered convention in July where it’s possible that someone other than Bernie Sanders would be the Democratic nominee. It could be Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Cuomo, Deval Patrick, and maybe even Joe Biden. Even if none of them participated in the last 6 months of televised debates, townhalls, or won a single primary election.
The reason Bernie Sanders chances would not automatically become the nominee in Clinton’s absence is because of the Democratic Party’s high number of superdelegates. Those are delegates not bound by the results of state primaries.
A Democratic strategist who declined to be named in order to speak candidly guessed a Clinton withdrawal would benefit Biden more than Sanders because most superdelegates would flock to the vice president, not the Vermont senator.
“The superdelegates give Biden something to play with,” the strategist explained.
Delegates at national conventions select their party’s nominee using several rounds of ballots, if needed. But more than one round is not typically required, thanks to the primary elections and caucuses that precede the conventions.
“What is interesting is that we’ve been talking quite a bit about the prospect of a Republican brokered convention,” Jones said. “But if Hillary Clinton is indicted, it’s extremely likely that someone who has not been competing at all in the primary process would be the Democratic nominee.”