Both the Democrats and the mainstream media are celebrating FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision not to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton after he concluded this week that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” despite “evidence of potential violations.” The Boston Globe even reported that “the darkest cloud hanging over Clinton’s presidential hopes [has] suddenly lifted.”
Not so fast.
The American people — the real jury in this case — will render their own verdict on Mrs. Clinton’s conduct come November. So far, it’s clear they are not pleased with Mr. Comey’s decision. A Rasmussen poll showed that 54 percent of the American people disagreed with the decision not to indict her, which includes a quarter of Democrats and 63 percent of independents, a devastating result for the former secretary of state.
Mr. Comey presented a powerful case on Mrs. Clinton’s mishandling of classified information and placing our national security at risk, and essentially confirmed in his lengthy testimony to Congress Thursday she lied about it, even if the lies weren’t told to FBI investigators. Both private experts and federal investigators agree that her private server was almost assuredly hacked, but we may never know the damage caused by her actions. She was more obsessed with shielding her emails from the public eye than protecting classified information that could have placed Americans and intelligence officials and information at risk.
The American voters will need to decide whether they want to elect a commander in chief whom the FBI director defined as “extremely careless” with our national security and defense information.
Here’s Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon’s tepid response: “As the secretary has long said, it was a mistake to use her personal email, and she would not do it again.”
But her mishandling of classified information, lack of judgment and the cycle of lies identified by the FBI is more than just a mistake, it’s a disgrace, an insult and a mockery of the oath that she took as secretary of state.
Mrs. Clinton should not be above the law, yet there is a sense that a different standard has been applied in this case. We are facing a trend of the elites evading disciplinary action while low-level government officials are punished for engaging in similar activities. The latest Rasmussen poll reflects this: 81 percent believe powerful people get preferential treatment when they break the law. And many federal employees, like Navy engineer Bryan Nishimura, suffered major consequences for mishandling classified information. Yet Mr. Comey simply scolded Mrs. Clinton and glossed over the statute, which criminalizes “gross negligence,” in the hopes that we would understand his decision.
While the door has been shut on a criminal indictment, the political damage will be just as severe.
The FBI has uncovered Mrs. Clinton’s lies on her handling of classified information, on her failure to turn over all of her emails, on the number devices and servers she used. President Obama may believe that she is the “most qualified” person to be president, but Mrs. Clinton is ethically unfit to be president. It is imperative that the American people understand the severity of her actions.
Even more baffling is that Mrs. Clinton will face no legal consequences, despite Mr. Comey’s comments: “To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions,”
So when will the question of the consequences be decided, Mr. Comey?
The Obama administration will ignore Mr. Comey’s comments and let Hillary Clinton off the hook, but that is simply unacceptable. As Speaker Paul D. Ryan has urged, Mrs. Clinton should be blocked from access to classified information during the presidential campaign.
“At the very least,” Mr. Ryan rightly said, “Hillary Clinton and her staff should be stripped of their security clearance. It is a privilege that comes with the presumed responsibility of protecting our nation’s top-secret and classified information.”
It’s emblematic of the blinded ethical nature of Democratic loyalists to stand by an extremely careless, proven liar like Hillary Clinton. They are defending a candidate who repeatedly engages in risky and deceitful behavior, while attempting to deceive the American people that her actions were a simple mistake that caused minimal damage.
But indictment or not, the final political judgment will come from the American people, and perhaps those same Hillary supporters are celebrating too soon.
• Mercedes Schlapp is a Fox News contributor, co-founder of Cove Strategies and former White House director of specialty media under President George W. Bush.