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Is There Another Reason Why Hillary Doesn't Want to Run Again?

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Hillary Clinton has said no más to future runs for the White House. The former first lady and two-time presidential loser ended any 2024 speculation by declaring herself committed to retirement. As Joe Biden’s age becomes a more salient issue, Democrats appear to be increasingly torn between party loyalty and acknowledging that the president has lost more than half a step mentally and physically as he approaches 80. Hillary Clinton could mount another national campaign, as she has the name recognition and fundraising pull, and could assemble a crack team of staffers from an experienced operative reservoir. But her age, 74, would also become an issue. If age and health make it to the forefront, Clinton won’t be able to weather the storm, as she’s 74, and everyone saw her collapse during the 9/11 memorial event in 2016. Yet, I don’t think age is why she’s no longer interested in running for president. It’s the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago.

The issue about age, while not peripheral, could be neutralized with good politicking or debate performances. We saw Ronald Reagan do that in a debate against Walter Mondale in 1984, which was so effective that the latter admitted he knew he lost the election at that moment. The FBI’s ransacking of Mar-a-Lago on August 8 could rehash a period of the 2016 election that Hillary would like to forget: the email server fiasco.

Whether intentional or not, the media is trying to engage in political penance for overhyping the Clinton email server, which ironically was a big deal. While serving as secretary of state, Clinton used an unauthorized and unsecured email server from her home. All official State Department business was transmitted through this system, which foreign intelligence sources did hack, and classified material was found on it. The homebrew server was set up expressly to circumvent federal records-keeping ordinances via the National Archives. She also deleted 33,000 emails under federal subpoena, reportedly ordered staffers to alter classification markers on some State Department communiqués, and destroyed government-issued Blackberries with hammers. 

Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information, as evidenced by the vicious tongue-lashing offered by then-FBI Director James Comey—who also refused to charge her. Her home was not raided by FBI agents when it should have been, given the FBI’s Trump raid. And if this is the standard, then no matter what, Trump should be let go just like Ms. Clinton.

Donald Trump was the president of the United States. He is the ultimate authority on what can be declassified, which he did. He just took copies with him after the end of his first presidency. It was secure at Mar-a-Lago, with staffers with security clearances handling the items and the Secret Service providing security. No one can just walk inside the home of the former president. Some items seized by federal agents were empty folders and Time magazine covers. Also, the Biden Justice Department’s June 8 letter instructing the Trump legal team to keep all documents at the residence before the August raid adds to the narrative that this was a politically motivated hit job. The media is trying to make a case for Trump mishandling classified materials like Hillary. He can never be charged with that based on the law. Hillary was never president, so she didn’t have that absolute authority on declassification. Based on the facts and existing law, this narrative gets shredded in less than 30 seconds. The Presidential Records Act isn’t a criminal statute, and the fact that no smoking gun has been found a month after the raid only pours more kerosene on this public relations fire for the Justice Department. However, it has helped Trump secure essential early support for a 2024 run.

Hillary running again would expose the fallacies in the classified document circus around Trump and give the former president earned media exposure that would be astronomical. It could also shift attention away from Trump and redirect to Hillary’s gross negligence when handling sensitive documents. Trump spins out of this story while Hillary gets grilled again. At her age, who wants that, coupled with the added obstacle that a significant part of the Democratic Party base is younger and more progressive? Ending her presidential dreams could also dash Trump of an opportunity to escape the media cyclone from which he sits at the center. I think Trump will easily survive this DOJ raid, which has come off the hinges regarding reasons for its justification. Still, Hillary running again could have accelerated the timeline for dismissal. 

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