The Wall Street Journal
Updated Nov. 22, 2016 7:09 p.m. ET
Donald Trump’s approval rating is up nine points since Election Day in one survey, and one reason may be that he’s setting a tone of expansive leadership. A case in point is his apparent decision not to seek the prosecution of Hillary Clinton for her email and Clinton Foundation issues.
“I think when the President-elect, who’s also the head of your party, tells you before he’s even inaugurated that he doesn’t wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone and content,” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC on Tuesday. Mr. Trump later told the New York Times that “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t,” adding about prosecuting Mrs. Clinton that “it’s just not something that I feel very strongly about.”
That’s the right move—for the country and his Presidency. We know from reading our email that many Americans want Mrs. Clinton treated like Mel Gibson in the climactic scene of “Braveheart.” Their argument is that equal justice under law requires that she be treated like anyone else who mishandled classified information.
But discretion is also part of any decision to prosecute. FBI Director James Comey was wrong to exonerate Mrs. Clinton before the election because that wasn’t his job and he let the Attorney General off the hook. Loretta Lynch should have taken responsibility for absolving or indicting her party’s nominee—and voters could hold her and Democrats accountable.
The voters ultimately rendered that verdict on Nov. 8, and being denied the Presidency is a far more painful punishment than a misdemeanor or minor felony conviction. Prosecuting vanquished political opponents is the habit in Third World nations. Healthy democracies prefer their verdicts at the ballot box.
Prosecution would also stir needless controversy that would waste Mr. Trump’s political capital. President Obama made the mistake of blessing then Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision in 2009 to have a special prosecutor investigate CIA officials over post-9/11 interrogations. This made Mr. Obama look vindictive and ideologically driven, and it was among the decisions that set the tone for the hyperpartisan Obama Presidency.
The press corps is making much of Mr. Trump’s campaign promise to name a special prosecutor for Mrs. Clinton, as well as the cries at his rallies of “lock her up.” That always seemed like campaign overkill, and Mr. Trump is now President-elect. His more important promise is the one he made in his victory speech to be the President of the entire nation, and democracy’s verdict is justice enough for Mrs. Clinton.
Tags: Clinton Foundation, Donald Trump’s approval rating is up, FBI, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s Email, hyperpartisan Obama Presidency, James Comey, Kellyanne Conway, not to seek the prosecution