Last week was a huge political news week. Killings by and of police, the President in Warsaw, Poland for an important (and in America largely overshadowed NATO conference), another week of the 2016 Presidential campaign and many Republican dominated state legislatures doing their destruction acts. With all that to consider I’m still picking the Hillary Clinton e-mail situation as the biggest story of last week but in a way many readers wouldn’t expect.
Late Tuesday morning FBI Director James Comey stepped to the microphones and spoke for 15 minutes during which he criticized Hillary Clinton and her treatment of e-mails while Secretary of State. In his conclusion he stated that his recommendation was that no charges be brought against Clinton or anyone else. The next day Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to nobody’s surprise, announced she was accepting Comey’s recommendation. The first thing I thought of at the conclusion of Comey’s remarks is that the FBI is part of the Justice Department which Lynch heads. After the right wing foolishly made a big deal out of the Bill Clinton – Loretta Lynch chat on a tarmac the decision effectively defaulted to Comey.
Comey is about as apolitical a person as you will find among high level people in Washington. However, the fact of the matter is that he is much more of a Republican than a Democrat. The Republicans who are desperately trying to discredit Clinton couldn’t have found a more favorable “judge” and they still lost the decision.
Comey sounded much like a District Attorney who prudently decides not to bring charges against a suspect because the case is a certain loser in court. In view of the applicable statue the case against Clinton was terminally weak. Only one case has ever been successfully prosecuted under that statue. That was in 1917 and the defendant was involved in espionage. If charged, can you imagine the dream team of lawyers Hillary would have assembled? 99 years later and no spying; I like Hillary’s chances and thank Director Comey for saving a boatload of taxpayer dollars.
I’m a Clinton supporter but I will admit it appears she and her State Department staff were sloppy. E-mail is a relatively new means of communication. The federal government is notoriously behind private industry in technology. Investigations of recent prior Secretaries of State and their staffs have revealed similar practices. In fact it appears that at least in their early days John Kerry’s State Department was basically following suit. May I suggest that assuming he stays in his post until after the election, Kerry make putting in place a policy that is more secure while recognizing the realities of today’s technology and demands on the State Department before he exists a top priority. A Congress that was protecting America instead of fighting for partisan advantage would be working toward that goal.
There is no evidence that the Clinton State Department’s sloppiness caused any harm or endangered America, it people or its interests. A key element in the decision not to prosecute and a burden of proof the government couldn’t have met is intent. There is nothing to lead a reasonable person to conclude that Clinton or her staff intentionally harmed or intended to harm America or its interests.
The right wing likes to compare her situation to that of General David Petraeus. Clinton did not intentionally pass along secrets to unauthorized people in the hope of impressing or aiding the career of an extra-marital lover.
I’d like to offer another situation to compare this one to. Hillary Clinton did not reveal the identity of a covert CIA operative in order to extract political revenge on her husband. Dick Cheney scooted on that one (pun intended).
So what have the Republicans in Congress done in the wake of the FBI’s decision? They have launched investigations into the investigation. How can they justify that? Despite rhetoric to the contrary their sole objective is to keep the conversation alive in the hope of sowing doubt in the minds of enough Americans to influence the 2016 elections while motivating their radical right wing base voters to show up in November.
Those hearings and investigations will not produce any revelations against Clinton or her staff. In fact anyone who is knowledgeable and objectively watched the Comey hearings before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform saw Comey make fools of Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Trey Gowdy and John Mica. The only thing additional hearings will do is waste American tax dollars.
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