Attorney General Loretta Lynch is the most powerful figure in the Democratic presidential race

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Loretta Lynch Sworn in as 83rd Attorney General

This coming April 23rd will mark the first anniversary of the U.S. Senate's 56-43 vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General.

By so doing, Lynch, a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, followed Eric Holder's historic tenure as the first black man to hold the position by becoming the first black woman to serve as America's top law enforcement official.

But with reports from Washington last week indicating that the FBI will soon interview former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and several of her former aides regarding the seemingly never-ending classified email scandal, Lynch could make history yet again if she decides to indict the Democratic presidential front-runner.

RELATED: Loretta Lynch Wins Confirmation as Attorney General

Some who are reading this post may be thinking "not this e-mail mess again." But until the matter is resolved one way or another, the investigation, and Lynch's looming decision, hover like a shadow over this year's race.

See how Clinton has addressed this issue recently:

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Hillary Clinton Email Scandal
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Attorney General Loretta Lynch is the most powerful figure in the Democratic presidential race
FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2016 file photo, Democratic presidential hopeful former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in San Gabriel, Calif. The State Department released Friday another 3,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email account, missing a court-ordered goal for their production by a week. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Representative Susan Brooks, a Republican from Indiana, questions Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, not pictured, during a House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Under scrutiny for her handling of the Benghazi attacks and her use of a private e-mail server, Clinton plans to invoke the memory of slain U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens to defend her approach to diplomacy, saying they shared a common belief in the need for America to lead. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
In this photo taken Aug. 27, 2015, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Cleveland. The State Department is expected to release roughly 7,000 pages of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails later Monday, including about 150 that have been censored because they contain information that has now been deemed classified. (AP Photo/David Richard)
This portion of an email from Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email account when she was secretary of state and released by the State Department on Sept. 30, 2015, shows an email Clinton received early in the morning on Aug. 3, 2011. The newly released emails show Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Clinton's private email account while she was secretary of state. It is unclear if she clicked on any attachment and exposed her account. Clinton received the infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets, over four hours early the morning of Aug. 3, 2011. The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets, which would have allowed hackers to take control of their computers. Security researchers who analyzed the malicious software have said that infected computers would transmit information from victims to at least three server computers overseas, including one in Russia. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2015 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. The State Department review of Clinton's emails so far has found as many as 305 messages that could contain classified information and require further review by federal agencies, the department said Monday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2015 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens as she meets with voters during a campaign stop at River Valley Community College in Claremont, N.H. Clinton has relented to months of demands that she relinquish the personal email server she used while secretary of state, directing the device be given to the Justice Department. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks before the National Urban League, Friday, July 31, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
FILE - In this July 7, 2015, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a campaign stop at the Iowa City Public Library in Iowa City, Iowa. A special House committee on the 2012 Benghazi attacks has devolved from an investigation into the deaths of four Americans in Libya into a political fight over Clinton’s emails and private computer servers, in a battle that is likely to stretch into the 2016 presidential election year. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks, Friday, July 24, 2015, at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York. Federal investigators have alerted the Justice Department to a "potential compromise of classified information" arising from the private email server used by Clinton in her home, a department official said Friday. Clinton commented briefly on the issue saying, "We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right, and I will do my part but I'm also going to stay focused on the issues." (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at an event at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York on July 24, 2015. The Justice Department said it had received a request to probe whether Hillary Clinton mishandled sensitive government information by using her private email for State Department business. 'The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information,' a department official said in a brief statement that confirmed in part a story that first appeared in The New York Times. AFP PHOTO/ KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this April 29, 2015, file photo, Huma Abedin, attends the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum in New York. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon has given the State Department a few months to provide The Associated Press with thousands of documents it sought in a federal lawsuit. The Aug. 7, order means the documents, including schedules and calendars from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be released months ahead of the spring presidential primary elections. Leon ordered the department to produce within 30 days records related to Abedin, a former top Clinton aide, during her time as secretary of state. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton answers questions from reporters March 10, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. Clinton admitted Tuesday that she made a mistake in choosing for convenience not to use an official email account when she was secretary of state. But, in remarks to reporters after attending a United Nations event, she insisted that her email set-up had been properly secure and that she had turned over all professional communications to the State Department. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Huma Abedin (R), aide to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, looks on during a news conference following Clinton's keynote speech at a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and other members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speak to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Peter Roskam (R-IL), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speak to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton answers questions from reporters March 10, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. Clinton admitted Tuesday that she made a mistake in choosing for convenience not to use an official email account when she was secretary of state. But, in remarks to reporters after attending a United Nations event, she insisted that her email set-up had been properly secure and that she had turned over all professional communications to the State Department. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speaks to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2013 file photo, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Congressional aides say the special House committee investigating the 2012 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, will issue subpoenas for Clinton's personal emails. The aides say that possible as early as Wednesday, the committee will seek the additional material from the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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Since the email scandal first emerged last year, Clinton's chief rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, repeatedly has declined to use the federal probe as campaign cudgel. Because of that, most of the criticism has emanated from the Republican presidential field and the right-wing media that devote ink and airtime to speculation that Clinton's indictment and conviction are all but inevitable. For this reason, many Democrats, including some Sanders supporters, have dismissed the scandal as yet another Republican attempt to sully Clinton's reputation.

SEE ALSO: Clinton, Sanders Clash on Guns, Foreign Policy in First Democratic Debate

Still, the fact that dozens of FBI agents have investigated this case during a Democratic administration is proof that this is no Republican sponsored witch-hunt. Further, federal investigations often are as slow as molasses and can take months, if not years, before cases are submitted to prosecutors who will decide whether to seek indictments.

Attorney General Lynch has wide discretion in determining whether to prosecute. Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City who also served as a U.S Attorney, earlier this year suggested that having worked with Lynch before, that if probable cause existed to suggest that a crime was committed, that Lynch would prosecute.

See photos of Lynch:

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Attorney General Loretta Lynch is the most powerful figure in the Democratic presidential race
Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney general, speaks during a keynote session at the RSA Conference 2016 in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Lynch challenged Apple Inc.'s refusal to comply with a judge's order that it help unlock a dead terrorist's iPhone, bluntly questioning the company's insistence that it has the right to refuse to cooperate. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attorney General Loretta Lynch arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, to testify before the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing on gun control. Lynch defended President Barack Obama's executive actions curbing guns, telling lawmakers that the president took lawful, common-sense steps to stem firearms violence that kills and injures tens of thousands of Americans yearly. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
Attorney General Loretta Lynch testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016,before the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing on the Justice Department's fiscal 2017 budget request. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Loretta Lynch smiles before being sworn in as the 83rd Attorney General of the U.S. at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, April 27, 2015. Lynch was confirmed by the Senate on April 23 as the first black woman to become U.S. attorney general after a five-month wait marked by partisan fights and Republican arguments that she won't be independent enough from President Barack Obama. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Loretta Lynch shakes hands with Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (L) after being sworn in as Attorney General during an event at the Justice Department April 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. Lynch is the 83rd Attorney General and is replacing Eric Holder. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US Vice-President Joe Biden delivers remarks prior to swearing-in Loretta E. Lynch as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States April 27, 2015 at the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: US Vice President Joe Biden (L) swears in Loretta Lynch (R) as Attorney General as her husband Stephen Hargrove (2R) and father Lorenzo Lynch (2L) stand nearby during an event at the Justice Department April 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. Lynch is the 83rd Attorney General and is replacing Eric Holder. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Loretta Lynch speaks after being sworn in as Attorney General as a portrait of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy hangs on the wall neaby at the Justice Department April 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. Lynch is the 83rd attorney general and is replacing Eric Holder. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch appears for her confirmation hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee'€™s hearing on her nomination. If confirmed, Lynch would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September after leading the Justice Department for six years. The 55-year-old federal prosecutor would be the nation'€™s first black female attorney general. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, looks back at Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch after introducing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, prior to her testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee'€™s hearing on her nomination. If confirmed, Lynch would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September after leading the Justice Department for six years. The 55-year-old federal prosecutor would be the nation’s first black female attorney general. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, left, talks with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, after Gillibrand introduced Lynch to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Lynch was to testify at a hearing on her nomination. If confirmed, Lynch would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September after leading the Justice Department for six years. The 55-year-old federal prosecutor would be the nation'€™s first black female attorney general. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch testifies during her confirmation hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, speaks at a press conference to announce a 20-count indictment against U.S. Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY, 11th District) on April 28, 2014 in New York City. Grimm's indictments include wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiring to defraud the United States, impeding the Internal Revenue Service, hiring and employing unauthorized aliens, and health care fraud. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Loretta Lynch listens during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Loretta Lynch, a prosecutor with the US Attorney Eastern District of New York, has been nominated to serve as US Attorney General. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Committee chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (L) and ranking member Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) talk while Loretta Lynch speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Loretta Lynch, a prosecutor with the US Attorney Eastern District of New York, has been nominated to serve as US Attorney General. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch leaves her for a break during her confirmation hearing before Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the full Senate Ms. Lynch will succeed Eric Holder as the next U.S. Attorney General. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Loretta Lynch listens to questions during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Loretta Lynch, a prosecutor with the US Attorney Eastern District of New York, has been nominated to serve as US Attorney General. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, left, shakes hands with chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, right, as ranking member Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., look on during her confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: Lorenzo Lynch (2nd L), father of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch (L), raises his hand as he is being introduced during a confirmation hearing before Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Lynch will succeed Eric Holder to be the next U.S. Attorney General if confirmed by the Senate. Stephen Hargrove, husband of Loretta Lynch is on the right. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch reaches for the Navy SEAL trident pin of her brother -- a former SEAL who died in 2009 -- during a break in her testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee'€™s hearing on her nomination. If confirmed, Lynch would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September after leading the Justice Department for six years. The 55-year-old federal prosecutor would be the nation's first black female attorney general. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29: Character witnesses for Loretta Lynch raise their right hands as they are sworn in during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing January 29, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the full Senate Ms. Lynch will succeed Eric Holder as the next U.S. Attorney General. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on her nomination. Lynch defended President Barack Obama's decision to shelter millions of immigrants from deportation though they live in the country illegally but she said they have no right to citizenship under the law. If confirmed, Lynch would become the nation's first black female attorney general. It is the first confirmation proceeding since Republicans took control of the Senate this month. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the full Senate Ms. Lynch will succeed Eric Holder as the next U.S. Attorney General. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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In a time as polarizing as ours, the fact that a conservative Republican like Giuliani would even make mention of his belief in Lynch's prosecutorial ethics can be considered either a high compliment—or a subtle attempt to persuade Lynch to indict to appear fair and impartial.

The question, however, is whether Lynch, by serving in a Democratic administration, can render a decision devoid of politics? Conventional wisdom would suggest "no," that the stakes are too high for Democrats when considering that a President Donald Trump or Ted Cruz would have an opportunity to nominate as many as three Supreme Court justices within the next few years.

Further, with Lynch also in line to continue serving as the nation's top prosecutor in a Clinton administration, reasonable minds could ask whether her personal ambitions could play a role in her ultimate decision?

A few months ago, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a moderate Republican who served under George W. Bush, indicated that he, too, had used private email for classified information during his term in office. Because of that, many Americans, like Powell, simply do not see why this is being made into a huge deal since to date, there are no indications that any information that was critical to America's security was shared by Clinton.

The truth of the matter remains that Clinton, by signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement pursuant to President Obama's executive order regarding classified information, understood that mishandling classified information could lead to criminal prosecution.

SEE MORE: Will an Emboldened GOP Turn on Obama's Attorney General Pick Loretta Lynch?

From a purely legal standpoint President Obama's executive order, with its "knowing" and/or "negligent" provisions, covers the gamut from intentional acts to "oops, my bad." Still, if the evidence tends to show the latter, that Clinton, like Powell, was not being shady but simply was not paying attention to the specifics of the agreement, such could lead Lynch to punt the football and refuse to impact the presidential sweepstakes over a series of less than harmful mistakes.

With Secretary Clinton still locked in a bitter primary race against Senator Sanders, should Attorney General Lynch break Democratic assumptions and prosecute prior to the Philadelphia convention in July, what impact would such a decision have on the ultimate outcome? Further, knowing that an indictment is not a conviction, could an indictment swing super-delegates currently pledged to Clinton to Sanders? Perhaps, but the reverse also could prove true if a defiant group of super-delegates decide to hold firm and support Clinton come Hell or high water while blasting what many Democrats believe to be politically motivated allegations of wrongdoing.

Time, indeed, will tell. But in the meantime, Attorney General Lynch, the first Black woman to serve in that capacity, has a potentially game-changing decision that could either help Secretary Clinton become the first woman to serve as president—or severely cripple her prospects of breaking through that glass ceiling in 2016.


Chuck Hobbs is a lawyer, social activist and freelance writer who won the Florida Bar Media Award in 2010 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in commentary by the Tallahassee Democrat in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RealChuckHobbs. Opinions expressed above belong solely to the author.

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