SAN DIEGO – Likely speaking for millions of Americans, Mitt Romney said recently that he won’t vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
“It’s a matter of personal conscience,” Romney told CBS News’ John Dickerson. “I can’t vote for either of those two people.”
I’m with Mitt. The two major political parties have failed America by not producing – through their respective and highly dubious nominating processes – candidates of unassailable integrity, sound temperament and good judgment.
Most Republicans are falling in line behind someone who is unserious, unlikable and unhinged. Democrats offer a nominee who is untrustworthy, unreliable and untruthful.
Trump’s flaws become clear whenever he opens his mouth. Clinton’s have resurfaced in the scandal involving her mishandling of sensitive and classified emails on a private server.
That was the subject of an unusual press briefing Tuesday by FBI Director James Comey.
My favorite part was when Comey essentially said there was nothing that the former secretary of state did with her private email server that merits punishment because “we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information.”
Comey also said that the bureau “found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.”
But then, near the end of his remarks, Comey pivoted and made clear that, “in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity” might end up getting punished.
Welcome to the FBI in Wonderland. Don’t try to make sense of it. That will only drive you mad.
Kudos to Clinton. She beat the rap. Knowingly or not, intentionally or not, she appears to have done exactly what the federal statute says you can’t do without committing a felony. And yet, according to Comey, it is unlikely that a prosecutor would bring such a case to trial.
Especially a career prosecutor who, serving as attorney general, would probably like to continue on in that capacity beyond this year, which is highly unlikely if Donald Trump is elected president.
The FBI director put it this way: “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.”
Just a minute. Since when does an investigating agency try to put itself in the shoes of prosecutors before recommending whether charges should be filed against an individual? That’s not how the system works. Everyone is supposed to do his job, and not do anyone else’s. It should be the case that law enforcement – in this case, the FBI – determines whether or not a person should be charged by evaluating the facts of a case not by reading the minds of prosecutors.
Finally, Comey said, after examining past investigations into the mishandling of classified information, the bureau couldn’t “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.”
Again, the FBI is working overtime. It goes the extra mile to look back not just on previous investigations (which is fine) but also on previous prosecutions (which is not fine).
Comey concluded that the case against Clinton did not fit the pattern of previous cases that went to court. For instance, other cases, involved “clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information.”
Hold on. Here, it seems Comey forgot what he said at the beginning of the briefing when he made clear that the investigation examined whether Clinton’s handling of email on her private server was “in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way.”
So the mishandling of classified information doesn’t have to be intentional to be a felony. Yet, in searching for a standard, the director settled on previous cases where it was intentional. That’s crazy.
Like I said, this is the FBI in Wonderland. Tea anyone?
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.