Career criminals must be snickering at FBI Director James Comey’s statement exonerating Hillary Clinton. There he was on national TV, trying to sell the premise that her handling of classified e-mails wasn’t criminal.

A gem from his prepared remarks: “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” (Most people suspected of a federal rap are almost guaranteed an unreasonable prosecutor, but Hillary’s special.)

And the funniest one: “To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.” (Hillary is above the law, but you are not.)

And then the one that no thinking person could buy: “I know there will be intense public debate in the wake of this recommendation. … What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.”

Geez, my assistant is old enough to remember when J. Edgar Hoover did the blackmailing. Obviously the fix was in; it was a matter of how and when to present it to the public. That apparently was the subject of the strange meeting last week when Bill Clinton “accidentally” ran into Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Phoenix airport and met with her on her private government plane. That meeting probably would have stayed secret had a Phoenix TV reporter not been tipped off. Christopher Sign of ABC15, anchor of the morning news programs, confirmed the tip, confirmed it again with a second source and nailed Lynch during a routine news conference discussing community policing.

According to Lynch, the 30-minute meeting happened by chance and consisted of innocent banter. When Sign asked, she didn’t hesitate about confirming the meeting, but things went downhill fast. From the ABC15 video: “Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primarily social, about our travels. He mentioned the golf he had played in Phoenix.”

That doesn’t pass the smell test. People like Rush Limbaugh, who knows a thing or two about golf and celebrity, wondered why no witnesses to Clinton’s golf round could be found. (At last report, Sign still couldn’t find any.) Then there’s the fact that golf in Phoenix this time of year usually is only played at dawn. Plus, it’s impossible for a public figure to sneak around a course.

Then there’s the matter of meeting in a plane on a tarmac in scorching temperatures with FBI agents running around ordering that no pictures be taken. Even with the engines running and the air conditioning on, it had to be uncomfortable in there.

With her credibility shot, Lynch couldn’t perform her customary role – announcing that Hillary would not be prosecuted. So the Obama administration passed the buck to Comey, forcing him to drag the FBI into the same sewer as Lynch’s Justice Department. Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson would have gotten a kick out of that.

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