Tuesday brought about the best news that Hillary Clinton could hope for.
FBI Director James Comey said his agency won’t recommend criminal charges against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, moving aside a major legal threat to Clinton and her bid for the White House.
But it wasn’t as if the news rehabilitated her image. No two presidential candidates have ever been as loathed by the electorate as Clinton and Donald Trump. And while fact checkers give Trump failing marks on honesty, in the polls he beats Clinton on the issue (a 45-37 percent edge to Trump per CNN survey in June).
Comey’s declaration that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” against Clinton for how she used a private email account counter to State Department rules was seen in different lights in our red-blue America.
Trump was quick to take to Twitter and cast doubts about whether the Justice Department, headed by an Obama appointee, would take a hard line against Clinton.
The press conference followed days of coverage of former President Bill Clinton’s meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on a government plane in in Phoenix amid the ongoing investigation. That, critics or the left and right contended, made it difficult to see the Justice Department as acting free of influence. Lynch subsequently refused to recuse herself from the case, but said she would follow the recommendations of career prosecutors handling the probe.
On the right, RedState.com focused on the damaging ways in which Comey described Clinton’s handling of her email. It headlined its breaking news story “FBI Finds Clinton Was Careless With Classified Information” and called the FBI director’s press conference “astounding” for the way it stated Clinton “admittedly broke the law, was reckless with classified information, and almost definitely allowed her private email account to be hacked.”
The liberal Daily Kos opted for a just-the-facts first take.
“After Hillary Clinton was interviewed by the FBI for more than three hours Saturday morning, FBI Director James Comey has announced that he is referring the case to the Department of Justice for a decision. However, in what he characterized as an ‘unusual statement in at least a couple of ways,’ Comey concluded that ‘we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.’ ”
Much of the initial news coverage noted that Comey was highly critical of Clinton, even as he decided not to charge her with a crime.
“The FBI believes that Hillary Clinton was ‘extremely careless’ in her use of a private email account while Secretary of State,” started the story posted at left-leaning Slate.com. In its first paragraph, Politico noted that Comey was “denouncing the former secretary of state and her colleagues for the way they handled classified information through private email servers.”