Hillary Clinton will not be prosecuted for her “extremely careless” handling of email while secretary of state. But the country’s top cop called her credibility and judgment into question.
FBI Director James Comey’s explanation of and conclusions drawn from the investigation into Clinton was riveting as an act of political and legal theater. He did not deliver what Clinton foes wanted: an indictment, a prosecution.
But he did deliver something almost as damaging: a narrative that jabs at her Achilles heel, the issue of trust.
Political pundits and legal scholars are prosecuting their own cases.
Clinton Was ‘Extremely Careless.’ That’s Not a Crime, but She Must Do Better in the Future
Editorial Board – The Washington Post
First, a shout-out to the investigator:…FBI Director James B. Comey appears to have navigated treacherous waters with the commitment to principle and rule of law that any citizen could wish for. The FBI investigated thoroughly. It came to its conclusion in time for voters to factor it into their deliberations. Mr. Comey leveled with the American people, reporting to them even before reporting to his own bosses.
And the conclusion he came to strikes us as being as sound as the process: Ms. Clinton was “extremely careless,” the FBI director said, but did not engage in the kind of intentional or willful mishandling of classified material that would warrant prosecution.
The director left no doubt of his belief that Ms. Clinton’s use of a private email server was entirely inappropriate for a Cabinet member with access to the nation’s highest-level secrets….
Carelessness, however, is not a crime.
The Clinton Rules
Editorial Board – Washington Examiner
Some people are more equal than others. Notably, the Clintons are less equal than the rest of us. An average government official who spent five years breaking the rules to frustrate the Freedom of Information Act, and who recklessly compromised classified information (more than 100 times), including top secret information (eight times), would serve time in federal prison….
The government has consistently prosecuted and obtained convictions for smaller offenses. The late Sandy Berger had to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge after he was caught ferreting relatively old classified papers out of the National Archives. David Petraeus “mishandled” much smaller amounts of classified information and the Justice Department came down on him like a ton of bricks. Former CIA Director John Deutch was caught with a small amount of classified information on his home computer, and it took a presidential pardon to save him from prosecution.
But if you’re a Clinton, you can commit much larger offenses and it doesn’t matter.
On Hillary, Let the Voters Decide
John Yoo & Robert Delahunty – National Review
The people, not the prosecutors, should decide whether Hillary broke the law.
That is the real takeaway from FBI director James Comey’s decision not to refer Hillary Clinton and her aides to the Justice Department for prosecution.
But Comey found that no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges because the FBI could find no “clearly intentional or willful mishandling of classified information or vast quantities of information exposed in such a way to support an inference of intentional misconduct or indications of disloyalty to the United States or an obstruction of justice.” This makes no sense because the law at issue, Section 793(f) of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, does not require such a high level of intent, but only “gross negligence.” It also makes no sense of the facts, as they are known: Why, after all, create a private e-mail system other than to evade the secure, classified system?
Another Clinton Scandal Goes ‘Poof’
Scot Lehigh – Boston Globe
Republicans need to move beyond the idea that every controversy is, should be, or can be made to be, a disqualifying scandal. In just a week or so, we’ve seen two such hail-Mary — or rather, impale-Hillary — hopes collapse.
After spending two years and $7 million, the Republican-led House Benghazi Committee’s investigation came a cropper, despite its obvious mission to unearth some — any — sort of additional Benghazi albatross it could hang around her neck.
I know Republicans won’t change their tack simply for reasons of responsible democratic dialogue. That’s way too much to expect. So here’s a self-interested motive: If they continue down their current hysterical path, they risk being irreversibly grouped with the boy who cried wolf.
Did Comey Actually Destroy Hillary Clinton by ‘Exonerating’ Her?
Read this portion of Comey’s transcript and ask yourself how this person (Clinton) could ever serve successfully as president of the United States:
To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.
…What Comey is clearly saying (and leaving for us to “decide now”) is that–whether you agree with his decision not to indict or no (I don’t)—in a normal, real-world situation Clinton would face consequences, quite probably be demoted or even fired, certainly not promoted to the presidency of the United States, for what she did.
Hillary Clinton Is Above the Law
David Harsanyi – The Federalist
Here’s another question that worth asking: Do presidential candidates have to admit they intended to commit a crime for the FBI to recommend the Justice Department prosecute? In the case of Clinton, it seems so. The FBI doesn’t believe there was intentional misconduct on the part of Clinton. Why did she ignore FIOA requests and fight Congress every step of the way? Why did Hillary lie or mislead law enforcement and the public if it was just an innocent mistake?
On March 1 of this year, Clinton alleged that she “never sent any classified material — nor received any — marked classified.” This was a lie. Hillary asserted that before becoming secretary she merely wanted only one device “for convenience.” This was also lie. The FBI found that Clinton “used numerous mobile devices”—not to mention servers. Any reasonable person could ascertain she was attempting to evade the public. She archived nothing and hid everything until she was discovered. The FBI unearthed several thousand more work-related emails by finding traces of these in decommissioned servers. Other emails were found in accounts of high-ranking officials at other agencies who also, according to Comey, should have known better. It was widely known that she used a private, unsecure email. How is that not grossly negligent?
FBI’s Comey Indicts Clinton Character, Competence
James S. Robbins – USA Today
[T]his could be the worst outcome possible….
…she is left with an investigation that found her perilously incompetent, calling into question her fitness for office. Director Comey said she and her staff were “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” to which “hostile actors” might have been able to gain access….
So in the view of the FBI, Hillary Clinton is a blundering fool who compromised national security but not a provable arch-criminal. This is not what the country needs in a president. “Dangerously negligent but never indicted” is an extremely low bar to set for the leadership of the free world. And it kills Hillary’s argument that she would be a highly skilled chief executive.
Director Comey’s Disgraceful Punt
Ken Allard – The Daily Caller
Halfway through my military career, my clearances were updated and I was “read on” to special access programs which went beyond Top Secret. I still remember those jaw-dropping briefings and the no-nonsense warrant officer who witnessed my signature. “Captain, if you ever allow these secrets to be compromised or lost, even by accident, then you can expect to end your career in the federal penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth.”
That was it, no exceptions or any suggestion that the espionage laws could somehow be bent for the higher-ups. Far from it: Real leaders were always expected to set the example, but especially in government hierarchies finely attuned to knowing what the boss really expects. Every general I ever worked for demanded both tight security standards and honest, accurate travel vouchers: Any deviation from either one was apt to be fatal.
Why No Clinton Scandal Can Stop Hillary From Crushing Trump
Damon Linker – The Week
Maybe FBI Director James Comey is right that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Hillary Clinton. But it is almost certainly the case that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case against her when she is just three weeks away from being named the Democratic nominee for president. Especially when indicting Clinton might well be the only thing that could hand the White House to Donald J. Trump.
If Clinton were set to face just about anyone else in the upcoming election, I could have imagined a very different outcome of the FBI investigation — just as I could have imagined very different political consequences of Comey’s assertion that Clinton was “extremely careless” in setting up and using a private email address and server for sensitive information while she was secretary of state. After all, the FBI director just publicly declared that the presumptive Democratic nominee exercised very poor judgment while serving in her most recent and most important position in public life….
For just about any other candidate facing just about any other opponent, this would be hugely, perhaps catastrophically, damaging. But Clinton has the great good fortune to be facing Trump. An indictment may well have sunk her. But short of that? She’s home free.