That GOP fantasy that never goes away: The Hillary indictment
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Call them Ahab. For 20 years, Republicans have been in search of the most elusive of prey: the indictment of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary Pressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Press: Why Trump should thank FBI MORE. And like those who preceded them on this quest – folks like Bill Clinger, Robert Fiske, Ken Starr and Alfonse D’Amato - they are banking on it to change their fortunes. Experience tells me this is folly.

It’s been whispered for two decades. When I was an investigative reporter at the New York Post covering the White House and the odd assortment of Clinton controversies, business columnist John Crudele would regularly call to convince me about the sealed indictment Whitewater prosecutors filed against the then-First Lady.

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Supposed deadlines to unseal and indict Hilary Clinton came and went, always with reasons: prosecutors didn’t want it to come out around the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing…..the Olympics….Ground Hog Day.

If an indictment against Hillary Clinton was readied – and the group Judicial Watch to this day is trying to force the government to cough up any draft indictment that may have been prepared – it never saw the light of day.

The drip, drip, drip against Hillary Clinton actually started with the ham-handed effort by the Clintons to fire the good folks at the White House Travel Office, who among other things helped book trips for the press.

Although she denied it, a later memo showed that Hillary Clinton was the driving force behind the firings, leading New York Times columnist William Safire to opine the "sad realization that our First Lady—a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation—is a congenital liar.” Sound familiar?

Then there’s Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.), who staged a long investigation that culminated with days of hearings in the spring of 1996 – just months before Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMaybe a Democratic mayor should be president Trump, taxpayers want Title X funding protected from abortion clinics President Trump’s historic rescissions package is a welcome step to cut wasteful spending MORE stood for re-election.

D’Amato’s hearings promised political theater. At its start, my New York Post’s front-page headline was “Target Hillary.” That story laid out how D’Amato’s true target was the First Lady, and how the hearings prove that the First Lady’s legal work on  shady land deal showed she broke the law, that she hid the billing records that would prove it all or that somehow the death of White House counsel Vince Foster was not what it seamed and there was a White House cover-up.

D’Amato loved the headline, but who vowed to me “button up” my source: David Bossie, who today we know as the head of Citizens United. D’Amato’s top lawyer was Michael Chertoff, who went on to be George Bush’s head of Homeland Security, and to his credit refused to leak even when D’Amato told him to. I know, I was there.

In the end, the movie couldn’t match the trailer: By summer 1996 D’Amato’s 768-page report was full of what-ifs and could-bes, and Clinton lawyer David Kendall (yes, he was around back then, too), summed it up as "the politically preordained verdict of a partisan kangaroo court."

Finally, Republicans bet on Whitewater special prosecutor Ken Starr. He was a golden retriever (mild mannered and well behaved), but certainly the pit bulls in his shop would get the goods on the president and First Lady. That’s where John Crudele’s regular predictions of a sealed Hillary indictment came from.

But Starr’s probe took a hard right-hand turn to a White House intern and cigars in 1997, leaving in the dust the Whitewater land deal that started it all. By the time his report came out nobody cared about Whitewater; it was all about Monica Lewinsky.

So what lessons can be learned from this sad story?

The first, for Republicans, is hope is not a strategy, and basing your election success on what prosecutors may do is folly. Twenty years of experiences tells us that.

Second, if Hillary Clinton slides on this, it doesn’t mean all good news for her team. If one thing the Whitewater matter and Monica Lewinsky scandal taught us, is the Clintons leave behind a high volume of collateral damage. We’re looking at you, Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan. While the Clintons tend to skate, their aides and friends pay the price. Just go back to the Whitewater casualty list.

Third, don’t be so sure that even if someone gets indicted over Operation Email that you can bet on how it will net out with the public. Remember, Bill Clinton got impeached and his popularity went up. Republicans are always Charlie Brown with the football, waiting for their chance to make the kick but always playing the fool when whatever they threw at the Clintons seems to backfire.

You’ll notice that nowhere in this piece did I say Hillary Clinton wasn’t dirty. No, the moral of the story is that Republicans waiting around for prosecutors or congressional investigators to solve their political issues has never worked.

When it comes to Hillary Clinton, it’s best for Republicans to remember the definition of insanity.

Galvin is a partner and co-founder of Vrge, a communications and advocacy firm.