- - Sunday, January 17, 2016

This time, every four years, is nirvana for political junkies. The presidential race has gone to warp speed. For the second successive time, the vice president of a term-limited president is not on the ballot. In theory, the race should be wide open.

The Republican race has been wide open. With a record number of candidates, that race has been a cage match, with the top candidates only now emerging.

On the Democrat side, everyone assumes Hillary Clinton will be the nominee, with Bernard Sanders giving her only token opposition.

Are the Democrats ready to feel the Bern? If not, they had better. By April 1, there will have been 36 Democrat primaries or caucuses. These include Democrats abroad and Democrats in U.S. territories.

Why is this so important?

The answer is very simple. 60 days from now, the FBI is going to have wrapped up its investigation of Mr. Clinton and is going to present the matter to the attorney general for prosecution.

Leaked information, as well as information that is publicly available says one thing. Mr. Clinton is in huge legal trouble. Her legal troubles come on two fronts. The first is the scandal involved her mishandling of classified information. The second involves corruption with her role as Secretary of State and the Clinton Foundation.

The classified information mishandling scandal is a strong case. It is what prosecutors call a direct evidence case. That is, there are specific facts that can be introduced that show Mrs. Clinton is guilty of a crime or multiple crimes.

The smoking gun in that case is an email released earlier this month where Clinton emails and aide telling that aide to remove all of the notices that a document is classified and send it on a non-secure system.

The Clinton corruption scandal is also strong but the evidence is different. It is mostly a circumstantial evidence case. At least, that which we know about publicly. There is evidence that large donations were made to the Clinton Foundation and then the donors received benefits from the State Department. Circumstantial evidence creates the inference of guilt.

But what does all of this have to do with Mr. Sanders?

The Democrats are facing a huge problem with no way to win. By the time the FBI report hits the attorney general’s desk, well over half of the Democrat primaries and caucuses will have been held. The smart money right now is on Mrs. Clinton winning most of those.

Either Attorney General Loretta Lynch is going to approve the indictment of Mrs. Clinton or not. Either way, the Democrats lose.

If Ms. Lynch approves the indictment, the Democrats face the prospect of their frontrunner and probable nominee being under indictment. As Jeb Bush said, if she were to win, he might spend the first few months of her presidency shuttling between the White House and the courthouse.

If she isn’t indicted, the scandal will explode. Even the Clinton-loving media won’t be able to ignore this.

An indictment or the scandal resulting from Lynch (and by extension President Obama) not prosecuting Mrs. Clinton, will doom Mrs. Clinton’s nomination. The Democrats know this and the Democrat establishment will want to put someone else in as the nominee.

The Clintons operate with a creed of never surrendering. But they might not have a choice. But who would the replacement nominee be?

Mr. Sanders would make the claim that he is the one who should be the nominee. Granted he is a crazy old socialist, but he does have a point. More importantly, he excites the far left wing base of the Democrat Party. If the establishment passes him over, while they are in damage control mode, even for someone like Elizabeth Warren, a lot of his supporters will be angry enough to not support the nominee.

There are multiple ways this can end and none of them are good for the Democrats.

At the recent Republican Debate, almost every Republican candidate repeated the line, they would all be better than Mrs. Clinton.

That is very true. But Mrs. Clinton won’t be on the ballot in November. She may be on her way to prison.

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