Tuesday’s announcement that the FBI was not recommending any charges be brought against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email server while Secretary of State was a gut punch to Republicans — and hardcore Bernie backers — hoping for a White House Hail Mary. However, despite director James Comey stating that he couldn’t see a prosecutor winning a case, he used the press conference to issue a scathing criticism of Clinton.
Comey provided Republicans with all the political ammunition they would need to use against Hillary. He knew there was no there there when it came to a criminal case, but as a Good Republican — he served as the deputy Attorney General under Dubya — he made sure to hand over the script for endless GOP attack ads on a silver platter. Heck, Republicans had to know that there was no earthly way they were going to get their fever dream of Hillary in an orange jumpsuit, right? Right? RIGHT?!?!
Well, apparently, they did believe that was going to happen. Or, at the very least, convinced themselves after ensconcing themselves in their Fox News feedback bubble and right-wing radio echo chamber for over a year. Therefore, we were treated to GOPers doing what they seemingly do best — shoot themselves in the dick.
Yep, instead of taking the wonderfully wrapped gift that Comey had laid in their lap, they threw it back in his face and pissed all over the furniture. Now, we naturally expected that party standard-bearer Donald J. Trump would respond in the wrong way and claim that the whole thing proved that the SYSTEM WAS RIGGED. Which he did. However, anyone who continues to believe that Paul Ryan and the Republicans on Capitol Hill are much more savvy than that haven’t been paying attention.
Almost immediately, Republican members of the Senate and House began clucking about the need for hearings to review the FBI’s decision. They targeted Comey not as a man of integrity, which they had done for the past year, but as a corrupt member of the WASHINGTON CARTEL, who was taking his marching orders from Obummer and Shillary, showing that the Clintons were ABOVE THE LAW.
Therefore, we are going to be treated to more hearings aimed at Hillary, as if eight Benghazi hearings weren’t enough. Everything will be based on conspiracy theories, right-wing noise and your meth-head uncle’s Facebook rantings. As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent wrote, it seems as if Republicans are unaware of just how quickly and vastly they are overreaching here, and how it will just look like they want to damage Clinton, regardless of how irrational it looks:
So, yes, Trump is already overreaching. But some Very Serious Republicans may be doing the same. Now Paul Ryan’s House Republicans will hold hearings into Comey’s recommendation, and he is calling on the FBI to release all of the information that went into that decision, because it “underscores the belief that the Clintons live above the law.” Interestingly, Ryan appears somewhat uncomfortable with the implications of his criticism. In his statement, Ryan carefully highlighted his “respect for the law enforcement professionals at the FBI,” but no matter: He essentially suggested that the bureau had placed Clinton “above the law.” Many other Republicans, including others of the Very Serious variety, are making similar suggestions while calling for a special prosecutor.
[T]he looming question here is one of degree, and Ryan, too, should be pressed to justify his suggestion that the FBI placed Clinton above the law. As we’ve already seen with Benghazi, Republicans don’t ever stop, no matter how many investigations fail to turn up that single devastating piece of evidence of Clinton perfidy and lawbreaking they are looking for. The same may prove true in the case of the emails. As Bloomberg Politics puts it, Ryan is basically helping Trump “whip up conspiracy theories over the FBI process” in a manner designed mainly to “rally the base,” but which “may do little to convince general election voters” that the fix was in.
Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert was even more blunt. (Which makes sense as the site is overtly pro-Hillary.) Boehlert blamed Fox News for filling Republicans’ heads with tales of dastardly, underhanded, criminal activities that put Richard Nixon to shame.
How did the GOP end up in this “scandal” dead-end? Fox News led Republicans into the alley, of course.
As I noted last summer as email fever swept across the fever swamps, “night after night, day after day, a rotating carousel of partisans who attack Democrats for a living have been invited onto Fox to invent a laundry list of claims and excitedly predict all the awful things that await Clinton and her surely doomed campaign.”
There really was no half-baked allegation about Clinton criminality that was considered off limits to the viewers of Fox News. Convinced that her use of a personal email account and server easily surpassed the widespread lawbreaking of Richard Nixon’s Watergate run, Fox News hyped the criminal danger supposedly facing the Democrat.
None of that was ever remotely related to the truth. So now the right-wing media and Republicans are demanding the FBI director explain to them why their fantasy version of the email “scandal” doesn’t match his factual one.
So, here we are. While the Senate sits on a perfectly qualified Supreme Court nominee that many Republicans know deserves a hearing but won’t get one because OBAMA, both chambers are going to make sure to hurriedly assemble televised witch trials so they can take turns repeating Sean Hannity’s mouth farts. Rather than use Comey’s own words to maximum effect in political ads, they’re going to treat him like he’s a traitorous socialist who was bought off by the Clinton Machine.
They were given a cut of prime, grade-A red meat to toss out to the masses of casual voters. It was set on a tee for them, whereas they could easily inform the public that Hillary is careless and ill-prepared when it comes to national security. But, NOOOOOO. They decided to use the opportunity to bite their giver’s hand and replay another episode of Crazy Republicans Say The Darnedest Things.
Image via AP