Pity poor Republicans. For months now, they've clung to their one and only hope of winning the White House. It had nothing to do with the strength of the economy or the state of the world. Nor did it have anything to do with Donald Trump or his pathetic campaign. It was something entirely different.
Knowing they couldn't count on Trump to win the White House on his own, Republicans placed all their bets instead on their fervent hope that Hillary Clinton would be indicted for her exclusive use of a personal email server while secretary of state. Pity poor Republicans. That hope evaporated completely this week with FBI Director James Comey's surprise announcement that the FBI would recommend to the Justice Department that no charges be filed against Clinton.
Clearly, Comey wasn't happy delivering that verdict. Indeed, before exonerating her, he went out of his way to beat up on Clinton. It's unprecedented for the FBI, the finder of fact, to comment publicly on a case until the results of their investigation are presented to Department of Justice officials. But that didn't stop Comey. While the investigation was still underway, before career prosecutors knew what the FBI had discovered or had made their own decision in the case, Comey broke DOJ rules by stepping forward himself and accusing Clinton of being "extremely careless," using bad judgment and, in effect, lying to Congress about whether any classified information was contained in the 30,000 work-related emails she provided to the State Department. (The New York Times later reported the number of emails which contained markings indicating the presence of classified information actually amounted to a total of two – out of 30,000.) He even suggested, without evidence, that Clinton's private server might have been hacked into by "hostile actors."
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Comey, in fact, gave Republicans all the ammunition they might need to make attack ads against Hillary. If only they had a candidate who knew how to take advantage of it. Instead, Donald Trump would rather talk about the Star of David and what a great leader Saddam Hussein was.
But all of Comey's negative comments were nonetheless drowned out by his iron-clad conclusion: "Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case." You almost got the feeling that he, a Republican and former deputy attorney general under President George W. Bush, was chomping at the bit to drop the hammer on Hillary Clinton, but couldn't find enough evidence to do so. Attorney General Loretta Lynch concurred in the FBI's judgment a day later, effectively bringing an end to the so-called Clinton email scandal.
Again, pity poor Republicans. They can't take no for an answer. They're now scrambling for any possible way to keep the email issue alive until Nov. 8. Republicans in Congress have already held one hearing to grill Director Comey, and have scheduled four more. Speaker Paul Ryan has demanded that Clinton be denied classified briefings normally given to any presidential candidate. Former presidential candidate Jim Gilmore is calling for the appointment of a special counsel. And Donald Trump, when he's not talking about Saddam Hussein or the Star of David, accuses Comey of being part of a conspiracy with President Obama, Attorney General Lynch and former President Bill Clinton to protect Hillary from criminal charges.
It's nothing but desperation politics. Why don't Republicans just accept the truth? Hillary Clinton did something monumentally dumb, sloppy, careless even. And she's the first to admit it. None of her earlier excuses for setting up her own private email server prevailed. But, after an 11-month FBI investigation, involving more than 165 federal agents, and eight congressional hearings into her emails and role in the terrorist attack on Benghazi, we now know for sure that Clinton did nothing illegal.
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There will be no charges filed against her. For all practical purposes, the great Clinton email scandal is dead. Period. In their first debate, last Oct. 13, Bernie Sanders famously told Hillary Clinton: "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your d–n emails." It was true then, it's even truer today. Those "d–n emails" turned out to be not so damning, after all.