Voters will determine consequences for email errors

Published 11:18 pm Tuesday, July 5, 2016

“Extremely careless but not criminal.”

That’s basically how the FBI director described former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

The FBI recommended Tuesday that Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, should not face criminal charges over her intentional use of a private email server while secretary of state, even though a number of those emails contained classified and top-secret information.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In fact, of the 30,000-plus emails examined by the FBI during the exhaustive investigation, 110 messages in 52 chains were found to contain classified information. Of those, eight contained top secret information; 36 contained information labeled as “secret”; and eight contained lesser confidential information.

It was careless, FBI Director James Comey said. But the incidents don’t rise to the level of criminal actions. “No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” he said.

And that ruling has angered GOP leaders and citizens alike.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said aptly that the decision “defies explanation,” citing that it could call into question the validity of laws protecting classified and top secret information.

Unfortunately, the FBI’s announcement means that the issue won’t be addressed through the court system. Instead, it will likely be addressed through the political process, where Republicans will criticize Clinton’s lack of judgment and call into question both the objectivity of the FBI investigation and the wisdom of the decision.

Ultimately, Hillary Clinton’s culpability – real and perceived – in this email debacle will be tested in the voting booth, where Americans will have the chance to decide if her actions – while careless but not criminal – are worthy of the president of the United States.

And the voters, ultimately, will decide what consequences Clinton will face, if any.