At a hastily called press conference this morning, FBI Director James Comey meticulously laid out the process for his agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private, unsecured email server while serving as secretary of State. He revealed there was evidence information that was classified at the time of its transmission — both to and from Clinton — was on Clinton’s unclassified email server, apart from information that was later “upclassified” as sensitive or secret. He said some of this information, including in messages Clinton herself sent, was at the “top secret/special access” level at the time she sent it. He dismissed the idea said information wasn’t really classified because it hadn’t been marked that way at the time, because “participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.” He opined that Clinton and her staff “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” He said “any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that (kind of) conversation.” He said that, while no “direct evidence” was found that the private server was hacked, the FBI did find that “hostile actors gained access to the private commercial email accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account” and that she used her private email even while in the territory of “sophisticated adversaries.”
In short, he not only demolished every single excuse Clinton and her team have offered during this entire episode. He also made a case for prosecuting virtually anyone in the United States under the legal standard he described, which is: a) for a felony, the mishandling of classified information “intentionally or in a grossly negligent way”; or b) for a misdemeanor, “to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.” He even said “there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information.”
And then he said the FBI would not recommend prosecution.
Folks, this is not another “vast right-wing conspiracy,” a la those about the death of Vince Foster. The head of the FBI carefully explained how someone had done what the law says one cannot do, and then he shied away from recommending prosecution because “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
Which means one thing: No “reasonable prosecutor” would try to prosecute the front-runner for the presidency. Period.
This is not vindication for Hillary Clinton. She broke the law, as Comey clearly explained. She just isn’t going to face the consequences of doing so — and neither will anyone else in her circle.
But there was an indictment of sorts handed down today: that of a legal system that only pretends justice is blind.
There will be time, soon, for discussing the politics of this. For now, just let it sink in that a powerful woman is getting away with law-breaking simply because she is powerful. And no one is even pretending otherwise.