State of the 2016 Race
A column for The Hill analyzing the current state of the 2016 presidential race.

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE's difficult — and perilous — political and legal future:

1. Clinton's political situation — which is on a steady downward slope among all voters, if not yet within the Democratic primary electorate — is directly tied to her deteriorating legal situation.

2. The email controversy comes down to whether or not she broke the law(s), including the Espionage Act, by mishandling classified information.

3. And this email controversy is currently on two tracks. Track A: The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) track, which is comprised of over 30 separate FOIA suits demanding to see certain emails (these suits are currently being overseen by six different federal judges); and Track B: The FBI investigation, which has been labeled a "security investigation," not a "criminal investigation." Believe this: When the FBI is investigating you and your behavior they are only looking for criminal violations.

4. In Track A — the FOIA requests — some of these emails have already been released and/or leaked. And they are not helpful to Clinton's cause.


5. Regarding Track A, we also keep hearing in the media that the inspectors general of the intelligence community — there are 17 separate intelligence agencies which combine to have two inspectors general — are reviewing these emails and keep finding legal violations regarding the possession and transmission of classified intelligence; Team Clinton repeatedly pushes back by claiming no such emails were marked classified when she received or sent them.

6. Now, on to Track B. Multiple media reports over the past two weeks claim that the FBI has been able to recover some of the 31,000 emails that Clinton ordered to be deleted, claiming they were "personal."

7. Yet none of the pro-Clinton media outlets ever bother to ask why the FBI wants to see these so-called "personal" emails?

8. The answer is obvious: They are looking for violations of the law regarding classified information.

9. And — separately — Clinton may also have comingled State Department business with Clinton Foundation and money-raising affairs in these emails. While not illegal, such emails would be politically damaging.

10. The politics of both Track A and B are not good. The best Hillary could possibly hope for is that the FBI and federal prosecutors decide not to charge her or her staff with any violations; still, Track A will continue to haunt her into 2016 and make her weaker and weaker, and vulnerable in a general election, provided the GOP nominates a decent candidate.

11. However, she seems desperately worried about Track B as it has now been reported in Ed Klein's new book, Unlikeable — from two separate sources — that Clinton recently went to the Oval Office and confronted the president by screaming at him, "Call off your f------ dogs, Barack," to which the president replied, "I can't do that."

12. Thus, the Obama Justice Department proceeds ahead — along with continual leaks from Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett's team all aimed at ruining Clinton's campaign and thus keeping the patronage-rich Democratic National Committee out of former President Bill Clinton's hands.

13. We have also learned recently from Klein's book that Clinton's health isn't great. That she has blinding headaches, insomnia, perhaps has multiple sclerosis, fears another blood clot in her brain and overall has no energy. Could this be a possible escape hatch for her if the legal noose tightens? (See below).

14. What is Clinton's immediate political future?

15. Track A is a death by a thousand cuts. As the FOIA emails come out over the next several months, they combine to drive down her numbers on "honesty and trustworthiness" and "likability"; the controversy swamps all attempts to change the subject.

16. Track B awaits an announcement: Will she or anyone close to her actually be charged — like former Gen. and CIA Director David Petraeus was — with criminal violations? If she were to be charged — even with misdemeanors as Petraeus was — that would be the end of her campaign; her support would collapse overnight, and the Obama team would then get Vice President Biden into the race to "rescue" the Democratic Party. (Petraeus received a large fine and two years of probation. How could Clinton run for president while on probation? If she actually won the election, we'd have a president on probation — something new, even for the Clintons.)

17. A possible scenario for Track B: prosecutors decide they indeed have enough to charge her. But instead, they quietly go to her with this offer: drop out of the race and we'll keep this quiet and there will be no charges. She takes that deal but announces that, "due to health issues, I am withdrawing from the race."

18. Keep a few things in mind: the vice president may very well know all of the above — and more; Team Obama may be getting him prepped and ready to come into the race once they orchestrate the destruction of Clinton. He does seem to be everywhere lately — and always smiling.

19. It was no accident that Joe and Jill Biden were positioned at the bottom of the steps on Sunday night as the pope said goodbye. The last people he shook hands with? The Bidens. Whom do you think arranged that? Did the White House arrange that with the Vatican?

20. Summary: The email controversy is bleeding Hillary Clinton, day by day. Thus, her supporters have a new line lately: "Oh, losing Iowa and New Hampshire is no big deal; Clinton has an impregnable firewall down south. The African-American vote is her real base." Well, if you are the "prohibitive front-runner," as she has been labeled for two years, and you lose both Iowa and New Hampshire? You are no longer the front-runner — and your party will panic and find another candidate, pronto.

LeBoutillier is a former Republican congressman from New York and is the co-host of "Political Insiders" on Fox News Channel, Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. He writes semi-regular pieces in the Contributors section on the "State of the 2016 Race."