By Editorial Board
At least the FBI got the last act of its October fiasco right. On Sunday afternoon, two days before Election Day, director James B. Comey wrote in a letter to Congress that the bureau had finished its review of thousands upon thousands of e-mails related to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s server, and that no criminal charges would be recommended. The bureau does deserve credit for working so rapidly, and giving the American people a bit more clarity after it cryptically disclosed the new inquiry a little over a week ago.
The bottom line: Comey’s conclusion from an earlier investigation stands. Clinton should not have used her own server while Secretary of State, which made her communications vulnerable to hacking, but her mistakes were not criminal. There is no evidence that national secrets were stolen, or that anyone was harmed as a result of her e-mail setup. She has still rightly apologized for her actions.
So things stand where they were in July, when Comey said that because there was no evidence of criminal intent, no reasonable prosecutor would charge Clinton in the case. The hyperventilating from Republican nominee Donald J. Trump aside, it could not be clearer that Clinton’s e-mail practices do not disqualify her for the presidency, then or now.
But the bureau’s diligence over the last week doesn’t erase serious questions about its conduct, which should come under greater scrutiny from lawmakers after the election. There are plausible suggestions that at least some members of the bureau acted out of partisan motivations that have no place in law enforcement, and that Comey made an error in judgment disclosing the new review’s existence in a letter noteworthy for its vagueness and innuendo. Comey’s communique was one that — by virtue of its timing alone — demanded clarity, and his effort was anything but.
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