While Hillary Clinton may be avoiding legal troubles regarding her unusual email practices while she was Secretary of State, the announcement that the FBI would not recommend criminal charges in the matter certainly won’t end the political questions about her actions, as Republicans pounced on the FBI decision.
“Hillary Clinton is the most crooked and corrupt politician in American politics,” said John Padgett, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.
“Secretary Clinton’s legitimacy as a candidate will forever be in question,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC).
“Declining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan.
While Republicans publicly expressed their displeasure with the FBI Director, in a sense, FBI chief James Comey gave critics of Clinton new ammunition to use against her.
In his statement to reporters, Comey rattled off how a number of Clinton emails contained not only classified material, but also ‘Top Secret.’
“110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent,” Comey said.
Comey’s statement to reporters at FBI Headquarters sounded at times more like an indictment of Clinton, as the FBI Director publicly rebuked the way she and top aides dealt with her email during her four years as Secretary of State.
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey said.
Comey’s basic message was that if any employee had done this at a federal agency, they would be sanctioned internally – not through a criminal process.
“Hillary Clinton wasn’t “extremely” careless, she was knowingly reckless,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX).
“There shouldn’t be one set of rules for political elites like the Clintons and another for everyday Americans,” said House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA).
“Secretary Clinton will still have to answer to and be held accountable by the American people,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX).
In the end, that is what will happen, as Republicans led by Donald Trump are certain to harp on the FBI findings repeatedly, making the case that Clinton was negligent while Secretary of State in how she dealt with secret material.
Whether that game plan works in November – that will be answered by the voters.
“This is exactly why Americans are so fed up with Washington,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).
“Any other federal government employee would have faced serious consequences. Instead, Hillary Clinton today boarded Air Force One and hit the campaign trail with the President of the United States.”