The Republicans' Long Goodbye To Hillary Clinton's Emails
With Tuesday’s announcement that the FBI had concluded its investigation of Hillary Clinton and her private email server and had decided against recommending charges be brought against the former Secretary of State, many in the media thought that this was the end. Slate’s Jamelle Bouie wrote about the scandal and its aftermath in the past tense, and Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight noted that the FBI Director James Comey’s announcement didn’t affect the betting market odds of Clinton making it to the White House. Even yours truly had the audacity to claim that nobody was going to care about the emails now that no indictments were forthcoming. It seemed as if Emailgate might finally be behind us.
But I forgot about the Republicans. Classic liberal bubble move.
On Wednesday, House Republicans summoned both Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to testify in front of the House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, respectively. In doing so, the GOP appears to be hoping to extend the life of the Clinton email scandal, rising to almost Kafka-esque levels of absurdity by launching an investigation of the investigation into the former Secretary of State’s private email server. One can already envision the proceedings unfolding formulaically, with Comey standing by his recommendation and Lynch denying that the impromptu meeting between her and Bill Clinton last week had anything to do with anything.
Responses to the results of the FBI’s investigation have fallen along predictably partisan lines, both among pundits and in the charnel house of Twitter. Congressional Republicans' move to call Comey and Lynch to testify, while eye-roll inducing, is hardly unsurprising.
In fact, at this point it might be a matter of political necessity: if Clinton is able to successfully move past the email scandal in the eyes of voters, it’s unclear what new ammunition Republicans will have against her. Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues to be a font of embarrassment for the party, and is losing potential VP picks by the hour. And in a year where Trump has turned commonly held beliefs about politics on their head, even House Republicans’ majority is being considered — ever so slightly — as up for grabs.
Clearly we’re still in a place in this race where anything could happen — even FiveThirtyEight gives Trump a 1-in-5 chance of winning in November — but it’s possible that Clinton's infamous cautiousness might serve her well in this maelstrom of a campaign cycle.