The FBI will not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her private email setup, Director James Comey said Tuesday....This is consistent with precedent:
Despite evidence that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and her senior aides were “extremely careless” with government secrets during her time as secretary of State, Comey said investigators had concluded there was not sufficient evidence to recommend an indictment against Clinton.
“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey said....
... as Comey noted in his announcement, the FBI could not “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts” as “all the cases prosecuted [in the past] involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an interference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice.”So, um, it's over? Ed Kilgore thinks so:
“We do not see those things here,” he added.
... Republicans will allege political tampering with the investigation and its fruits, even as they wring whatever they can from Comey's censorious statements about Clinton's recklessness. Beyond that, the email "scandal" will slowly fade into the background as part of a more general political indictment of "Crooked Hillary" and her crooked husband.Except that's not how Republicans usually operate. Nothing is final until they say it is, and if things aren't going their way, they never say it is. Obamacare survives two trips to the Supreme Court? Vote to repeal it a dozen more times! Clinton is vindicated by several Benghazi investigations? Start up another one!
... an enormous boulder in the road to the White House has now been removed....
So while I think Chris Cillizza goes a bit overboard when he says that Comey's announcement is terrible news for Clinton, he has a point:
For a candidate already badly struggling on questions of whether she is honest and trustworthy enough to hold the office to which she aspires, Comey's comments are devastating. Watching them, I could close my eyes and imagine them spliced into a bevy of 30-second ads -- all of which end with the FBI director rebuking Clinton as "extremely careless."This is what any Republican presidential candidate other than Donald Trump would build his or her entire campaign on, from here to November, in a relentless, disciplined, focus-grouped way. If Clinton were running against Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or Marco Rubio or John Kasich, this would be the main thrust of the opposition campaign. We'd be told that Comey and Loretta Lynch are part of a massive Clinton-led Democratic web of corruption, and that the only way to truly clean house is to vote GOP. All this might well define Hillary the way the Willie Horton ad defined Mike Dukakis or the Swift Boat story defined John Kerry.
But won't Trump do exactly the same thing? Yes -- but not in a disciplined way. His proclamations about the emails and the lack of an indictment will be loud and persistent -- but they won't be carefully shaped to win over targeted groups of swing voters, and, most important, he'll keep being distracted by shiny objects and his own unforced errors. Just as we spent days talking about Trump's attacks on the judge in the Trump University case, and have now spent days debating his "Star of David" tweet, we're going to be focused on whatever brier patch Trump wanders into every week or two for the next four months. Trump will try to focus on Clinton's emails, but the race will continue to be about him. He won't be able to help himself.
So while Trump might seem like the ideal Clinton scourge right now, he really could be the worst possible candidate for the GOP -- fortunately for Hillary.