Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves the podium after she spoke to members of the media July 14, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
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Could criminal inquiry into Clinton emails be the GOP’s Holy Grail?

Updated

The new Hillary email story: The Holy Grail or much ado about nothing?… The question: Is the target Hillary Clinton or someone else?… One thing is for sure: The Obama Justice Department is under pressure… And Hillary gives a speech on “reforming quarterly capitalism” in NYC.

FIRST THOUGHTS

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*** The new Hillary email story: The Holy Grail or much ado about nothing? Late last night, The New York Times released this bombshell report: “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email,” and the story said that two inspectors general asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Clinton herself mishandled sensitive government information regarding her emails. But later, the Times made some small – but potentially significant – changes to the story. The new headline: “Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account,” and the story said the criminal investigation was about “whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection” with Clinton’s email account.

Bottom line: We don’t seem to know the target of this requested investigation. Is it Clinton herself in dealing with classified information over her private email server? Or is the target someone else (in the State Department?) regarding the emails and their classification status? Politically, the semantics might not matter. But legally and journalistically, the semantics matter a great deal. Either this could be the GOP’s Holy Grail in reshuffling the entire Democratic race. Or it could be much ado about nothing – that is, a bureaucratic mistake. And there are two people who can help answer this question: The inspector generals at the State Department and the intelligence agencies. Note: There is no formal investigation at this time.

*** NBC has updated our story, too: NBC News confirmed the original New York Times story, but we changed our story, too, after doubts about the actual target of the requested probe. That said, the Clinton campaign didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment until this morning. Here is our updated story.

*** Justice Department – Under Pressure: If the target is Clinton herself – and again there’s a big IF there – then that will put significant pressure on the Obama Justice Department. Remember, the department has gone out of its way to open investigation into its own officials (see: Petraeus, David). And even if the Justice Department decides not to pursue a criminal investigation, Republicans can say, “Well, Obama’s Justice Department is trying to save the Democratic Party’s likely presidential nominee.” All of that said, until we know the actual target – Hillary? Someone else in the State Department? – we just don’t whether the story has legs.

*** On the trail: Hillary Clinton gives a speech on “reforming quarterly capitalism” in NYC at 1:30 pm ET… Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley are in Iowa… Ted Cruz addresses the ALEC conference in San Diego, CA… John Kasich stumps in South Carolina and Iowa… George Pataki also is in South Carolina… And Rick Santorum campaigns in New Hampshire.

OBAMA AGENDA: Another shooting

Breaking overnight: “LAFAYETTE, La. — A man sitting in a packed movie theater stood up and began firing into the crowd, killing two and injuring at least seven others Thursday night before fatally shooting himself, authorities said.”

In an interview with the BBC before the shooting, Obama said that gun control is the area where he’s been “most frustrated and most stymied.”

From the AP: “Ignoring calls from some African leaders to leave some of his opinions at home, President Barack Obama spoke favorably of gay rights as he prepared to visit Kenya and Ethiopia.”

The Miami Herald reports that conditions like the arrests of dissidents and access to the internet will be taken into account as the administration considers a possible presidential visit to Cuba.

A new New York Times/CBS News poll shows that nearly six in 10 Americans think race relations are generally bad.

CONGRESS: She Sells Sanctuary

“Two months after the high-speed derailment of an Amtrak train killed eight people and injured hundreds more in Philadelphia, a Senate transportation bill headed for debate this week calls for a three-year delay of the deadline for installing a rail safety system that experts say would have almost certainly prevented the Pennsylvania accident,” The New York Times writes.

“The House voted Thursday to punish local jurisdictions — known as “sanctuary cities” — that defy federal immigration authorities in order to protect immigrants living illegally in the United States,” writes The Washington Post. “The 241-to-179 vote, which was backed by Republican leaders and fell largely along party lines, is the most dramatic action taken by Congress after a spate of new attention on illegal immigration sparked by the July 1 killing of a 32-year-old California woman.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Jeb on “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter”

BUSH: Asked about whether or not Martin O’Malley should have apologized for saying “all lives matter,” he said: “We’re so uptight and so politically correct now that you apologize for saying lives matter? Life is precious. It’s a gift from God. I frankly think that it’s one of the most important values that we have. I know in the political context, it’s a slogan, I guess.”

He played defense in New Hampshire after his comments about Medicare. POLITICO: “Jeb Bush defended comments he made Wednesday night in which he seemed to advocate the “phasing out” of Medicare, after he was confronted during a town hall here Thursday afternoon by an elderly woman who said she was worried about losing benefits.”

A new Florida poll shows him with a big lead over Marco Rubio.

CLINTON: From The New York Times: “Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.” MORE: “The Justice Department has not decided if it will open an investigation… At issue are thousands of pages of State Department emails from Mrs. Clinton’s private account. Mrs. Clinton has said she used the account because it was more convenient, but it also shielded her correspondence from congressional and Freedom of Information Act requests.”

Msnbc.com’s Alex Seitz-Wald reports: “Hillary Clinton strongly defended Planned Parenthood Thursday as the women’s health organization reels from the fallout over a sting video released by anti-abortion activists earlier this month.”

KASICH: He says he’s not worried about being able to stand out in the crowded field, NH1.com reports.

RUBIO: He and Rand Paul have set up their presidential campaign offices on the same block, The Washington Post reports.

TRUMP: The Washington Post writes that “Trump has become increasingly reliant on a different business model — one in which he makes money by harnessing his celebrity brand rather than risking capital in real estate investments.”

The New York Times looks at how the rest of the 2016 field is plodding along amid the Trump show. 

Hillary Clinton

Could criminal inquiry into Clinton emails be the GOP's Holy Grail?

Updated