- - Thursday, June 2, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This may be the very first time in U.S. presidential election history when both of our major party candidates were in trouble with the law.

Both of them insist they’ve done nothing wrong. But a recent investigative report by the Department of State’s Inspector General said Hillary Clinton stubbornly ignored rules to safeguard internal security. And a U.S. District Court judge released documents in a class action lawsuit that alleges Donald Trump played a central role in the marketing of Trump University that defrauded many its students.

Hillary Clinton is the target of a lengthy investigation by the Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Investigation for irresponsibly using a private, email server on which she sent thousands of messages that have since been ruled to contain classified or sensitive material.

The FBI’s investigation, while not officially defined as a criminal inquiry, is being conducted like one to determine if the presumed Democratic presidential nominee willfully violated or skirted well-known government security rules and regulations.

At least one of her advisers has been given “immunity” by the FBI, an ominous tactic to uncover the truth without fear of punishment, and the former secretary of State will undergo FBI interrogation in the next few weeks.

One of the targets in the FBI’s continuing probe deals with an untold number of emails Mrs. Clinton deleted before the scandal came to light, saying they were personal in nature. Sure.

Mr. Trump’s case is potentially far more damaging.

Former officials of Trump University have come forward to implicate the billionaire real estate mogul, saying that he was intimately involved in its marketing style, preying upon the young as well as older people who ended up deeply in debt, and without a legitimate degree.

But Mr. Trump, who is notoriously litigious by nature, shows no sign of backing down. Instead, he warned the judge in the case that he may becoming after him if he’s elected.

In remarks Mr. Trump made Wednesday at a rally in San Diego, he attacked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel who is presiding over two class action suits lawsuits against the former TV reality show host.

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he believed Curiel, who was born in East Chicago, Ind., was a “Mexican.”

Then he hit the judge with the thought of what would happen if Mr. Trump ended up winning the White House with all of its attendant powers and prerogatives.

“They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. Okay? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. Okay. This is called life, folks.”

Mr. Trump’s enmity toward Mr. Curiel goes back to February when he told Fox News that the judge was against him because of his plans to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and deport all 11 million illegal immigrants.

“I think it has to do with perhaps the fact that I’m very, very strong on the border,” Trump told the news network. “Now, he is Hispanic, I believe. He is a very hostile judge to me.”

In fact, observers of the judge’s court demeanor say he’s been even-handed throughout the lawsuit. He’s “been nothing but fair in this case,” says Russell Wheeler, a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution.

Mr. Trump’s money-making enterprise was not a university, nor was it an accredited school, and its so-called teaching staff was criticized as inexperienced by students who were persuaded to “max out” their credit cards to pay its bills.

Much of the court’s findings will no doubt come out in future newspaper exposes, giving Mrs. Clinton one more issue to flog throughout the general election campaign.

This week, she said the allegations coming out of Judge Curiel’s court offered voters “more evidence that Donald Trump himself is a fraud.”

But Hillary Clinton is hardly a paragon of honesty and moral integrity, either.

She’s said repeatedly throughout the widening scandal over her reckless use of a private email server that “It was allowed” under the State Department’s rules.

She’s still making this bogus claim, even though the State Department’s Office of Inspector General says she was warned about the security risks associated with using an unsecured, home email server in her basement.

Last month, in an interview on ABC News, reporter Liz Kreutz pointed out to Mrs. Clinton that the Office of Inspector General’s report said “that you, quote, ‘had an obligation to discuss’ using your personal email and that you didn’t. So how can you really say that it was allowed?”

“Well, it was allowed, and the rules have been clarified since I left about the practice. Having said that, I have said many times that it was a mistake,” Mrs. Clinton replied.

But the truth is, writes Lauren Carroll of Politifact, the leading fact-checking group in Washington, “The gist of the problem is that Clinton never asked anyone if she could use her personal email setup. And the [IG’s) report seems to find that if she had asked, the policy was clear that such a request should have been rejected.”

When Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton hold their presidential election debates this fall, the email investigation will no doubt come up and she will claim that “it was allowed.”

But the report from the State Department’s Inspector General “shatters one of Clinton’s go-to phrases about her email practice,” Ms. Carroll writes. “We rate her claim False.”

Meantime, both candidates remain under investigation, one by the FBI on risky security practices, and the other in federal court for peddling fraudulent business degrees.

Good grief.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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