- - Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Republicans belong to the stupid party, it’s been said, and some have lately been trying to justify the slur. They have been hell-bent on destroying the credibility of the man who just gave them one of the biggest election-year gifts imaginable.

I am talking, of course, about FBI Director James Comey and his factual, indisputable demonstration of Hillary Clinton’s allergic reaction to telling the truth about major issues relating to her email use as secretary of state.

Not only that, but it became clear through his remarks that, as secretary of state, she also put our national security at risk through outright recklessness with classified information. In one of the most important positions in the world, she behaved as if certain basics didn’t count.

Why was that — because the demands conflicted with personal objectives, were too complicated for her to master, or perhaps because she was too involved in making perilous judgments on international affairs?

Whatever the answer, here is a major case against electing her as president, but the bigger deal in some Republican eyes is that Mr. Comey did not recommend her indictment. I think he was right.

As Mr. Comey has said, everyone ever subjected to a criminal prosecution on something like this has appeared to have the criminal intent to do harm, and she did not. There is a 1917 law that permits criminal prosecution purely on the grounds of gross negligence, but it has only been used once in almost a hundred years. Governmental employees who have done what Mrs. Clinton did are likely to have their security clearance yanked and more, but Mrs. Clinton is no longer in government.

Yes, there is room to believe she should still have been prosecuted, but it would be a fringe case at best, and the non-legal indictment made by Mr. Comey was as clear and convincing as it could be. House Republicans then decided on having an immediate hearing, and if they had wanted it to expand on his proof of carelessness, that would make sense. It would also make sense to probe more deeply into Mr. Comey’s thinking about criminal procedures if it were done in a non-accusatory fashion. But with exceptions, the hearing went well beyond this.

Instead of calm, cool deliberate Republicans posing calm, cool questions, we got emotionally wrought Republicans advertising themselves with hyperventilating speeches. The impression was not of mature statesmen. It was more nearly of juvenile protesters doing damage to a reputation they should have been hoisting to new heights, all the better to convict Mrs. Clinton as unsuited for the presidency.

To be sure, there were some good moments, as when Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy asked Mr. Comey whether a list of Clinton claims were or were not true. She said she never received classified information over her server. Mr. Comey said she did. She said the messages had no classified markings. Mr. Comey said some did. She said she never mailed classified information. Mr. Comey said she did. She said all work-related emails were returned to the State Department. Mr. Comey said thousands were not.

In addition to other such questions, Mr. Gowdy sadly confused matters by saying someone in the Army would be kicked out of his job for such misbehavior, as if that applies to someone who is not now on the U.S. payroll even if she is aiming for the presidency.

The email chicanery is just part of Mrs. Clinton’s shady dealings and fraudulent tales over the years. It’s conceivable, some believe, that she could still be prosecuted for perjury because of falsehoods uttered under oath or for misdeeds of the Clinton Foundation, which, someday, will surely be the basis of a Sopranos-style TV series.

Between now and then, Republicans should protect us electorally and with demonstrated competence from her chicanery and the tragedies that inevitably transpire from the left’s ruinous ideological fantasies. But it won’t happen if they don’t smarten up.

Jay Ambrose is a freelance writer and former director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers.

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