The politically charged FBI investigation of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s email practices has ended with a recommendation that no criminal charges be filed against her.
In my view, it’s the right recommendation because the FBI found no proof of criminality in Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business while she was secretary of state. However, as FBI Director James Comey rightly said regarding eight Clinton email chains on top-secret matters, “any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position … should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”
Still, the discovery of mishandled email is not the biggest revelation of this investigation. The crucial finding is that House Republicans callously misused government resources to carry out a political hit job, while pretending they were out to solve the problems that led to the tragic deaths of four Americans in a 2012 terror attack in Libya.
Now, after a two-year investigation that cost taxpayers more than $7.2 million, according to some expense reports, House Republicans have come up empty. That’s a shame, because they could have used that time and money to fix the income inequality that divides us, to mend the criminal-justice system that cripples us, and to confront the issues of race and class that run through our society like giant poisonous threads.
Instead of doing the real work of governing, however, the GOP played politics. Now that Clinton has been sternly reprimanded, but cleared of criminal activity, Republicans appear to be the ones who’ve suffered most.
Former House Speaker John Boehner, who presided over the party-line vote that created the Select Committee on Benghazi in May 2014, is gone. He was chased out by ideological robots who refused to compromise, even with the leadership of their own party.
Current House Speaker Paul Ryan is caught in a political trap that has forced him to lend tacit support to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. In case you missed it, Trump is the guy who locked up the nomination by delivering a wide range of racial, ethnic and religious insults that have offended African-Americans, Mexicans, women, Muslims, Jews and the disabled.
But Republicans themselves created the atmosphere that led to this moment.
By spending the last eight years relying upon dog-whistle language like “taking the country back,” the GOP played upon the racial animus that followed the election of the first African-American president. Then they used that resentment to make everyone in the executive branch fair game.
Maybe they thought that by dragging Clinton through a political three-ring circus, they actually were damaging the legacy of Barack Obama.
Or maybe, just maybe, Republicans were so desperate to win back the White House that they were willing to hang their political hopes on something as seemingly trivial as email.
Now, after lots of hearings, an 800-plus-page report, millions in expenses, and a federal investigation, we have come to this conclusion: Hillary Clinton made grave mistakes in using a private email server, but she did not break the law.
We know this because the State Department, the House of Representatives and the FBI have thoroughly looked into this matter.
I wish our government treated other issues with such painstaking precision.
Imagine if the brightest diplomatic, political and law-enforcement minds spent two years and millions of dollars on the issue of mass incarceration. Perhaps then we wouldn’t find ourselves with a criminal justice system that imprisons over 2.2 million people, with African-Americans facing harsher punishments than their white counterparts for similar offenses.
If the nation’s best educational minds spent two years and millions of dollars studying Pennsylvania’s public schools, our state wouldn’t have a 33 percent spending disparity between rich and poor school districts.
If our best sociologists spent two years and millions of dollars repairing the chasms that separate us along racial and ethnic lines, perhaps America would not have seen the number of hate groups grow by 14 percent in 2015.
But instead of addressing the real and persistent dangers that threaten to tear us apart, we spent two years looking at Clinton’s emails.
We should all have better things to do.