It finally happened. The day conservatives had been waiting for with eager anticipation. FBI director James Comey stepped in front of the microphone to announce the decision his agency had reached regarding Hillary Clinton’s email. But when it was all over, the right-wing came away largely empty handed, with Comey’s announcement that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee would not be prosecuted over her use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State.
The reaction of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump was swift, and didn’t contain any surprises. He called the system “rigged” and claimed that General Petraeus “got in trouble for far less.” It’s interesting that Trump thinks giving classified information to your mistress is less serious than maintaining an unofficial email server. But Trump’s tweeted reaction was just the beginning. Conservatives have been falling all over themselves to condemn the announcement, and proclaim that it was politically motivated. Whatever happened to the right-wing notion that the police can do no wrong?
Blogger Matt Walsh, who calls himself a “professional truth sayer,” epitomized the conservative reaction on The Blaze, with a commentary titled “Clinton is above the law, so the law is dead.” Walsh, who is given to bouts of over-the-top prose, thinks that this is the end of American justice as we know it, and like Trump, he believes that Clinton committed crimes far worse than those of General Petraeus. He never really builds a case for that belief, other than because the email “scandal” involves someone named Clinton.
Walsh locks onto Comey’s statement that the FBI knows foreign agents had compromised the email accounts of some of those with whom Clinton was corresponding. But he chooses to ignore the fact that it if enemies of the U.S. had been able to glean sensitive information from those accounts, they also would have received it if Clinton had been using the official State Department account. How’s that for a bit of truth, Matt?
You might think that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker might just want to stay out of this, given the fact that he has had his own email controversy. But the once up-and-coming GOP star, perhaps feeling the need to audition for a Trump cabinet position, weighed in with a Facebook post:
And this is the take offered by somebody named “William L.” who apparently runs the Facebook page “Stop Hillary In 2016.”
Mr. L seems to miss one important point: it’s not the job of law enforcement to follow “the voices of American citizens.” It’s their job to determine a) whether a crime has been committed, and b) whether the available evidence would allow for a successful prosecution of that crime. You would think that people who claim to love the police as much as conservatives do would understand that.
Kentucky Senator and former presidential candidate Rand Paul weighed in on Twitter:
Today Comey & Obama’s DOJ made it clear to the American people there’s no accountability no justice & the Clintons live by different rules.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 5, 2016
And according to Breitbart, GOP leaders in congress are plotting the strategy for their next move:
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that ‘we need more information’ about the FBI’s decision-making process, following a bizarre press conference in which FBI director James Comey said that he found ‘evidence’ that Clinton potentially violated the law yet he will not recommend indictment. Meanwhile, Breitbart News has learned that Oversight Committee heavy-hitters Trey Gowdy and Jim Jordan are meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the case.
Breitbart ignores Comey’s explanation for why the FBI is not recommending that Clinton be prosecuted, even though she “potentially violated the law.” Here are Comey’s exact words:
Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.
In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.
As you can see, many on the right are already preparing to run a campaign against Director Comey, attacking him for a politically motivated decision. But as Charles Tiefer points out at Forbes, Republicans will have a difficult time painting Comey as someone who is in the pocket of the Clintons or Democrats:
The No. 1 attack will be that Democratic influence, not the merits of Hillary’s position, got the FBI to clear her. But before buying into the notion of Democratic influence on Comey, look at his own record, which is as solidly Republican as they come. He identifies himself as Republican. He served as counsel on the 1996 Republican Senate Whitewater Committee, run by Sen. Al D’Amato, which relentlessly and fiercely excoriated the Clintons.
President George W. Bush appointed him U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, then Bush promoted him to Deputy Attorney General, the second post in Justice. He ran the Department for Bush under John Ashcroft and Alberto Morales. He gave campaign contributions to McCain and Romney.
But all that won’t stop them from trying, as we are already seeing. The right savaged lifelong Republican Colin Powell when he came out in support of President Obama. Now it looks like it’s James Comey’s turn to get tossed under the bus.
Featured image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images