If you only read one thing: The old maxim that “it’s not the crime, it’s the cover up” could hardly be more apt after FBI Director James Comey’s evisceration of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server Tuesday. While Comey recommended that no charges be filed against her or her senior aides, he said evidence exists that Clinton or her top aides did violate federal classifications and records laws, first by being negligent in the handling of top secret information, and then by improperly deleting emails. She is hardly the first Secretary of State to use private email, and it’s likely her predecessors also messaged about information that could be considered classified, but Clinton delayed in turning over her records (and only then an incomplete set) for two years after leaving office. She denied the presence of any classified information, when agency after agency proved her wrong. She said she only used one email device, when photos and then the FBI proved she wasn’t telling the whole story. Clinton said she set up the system for convenience, when her internal emails about the server and aides’ testimony made clear she did it to keep her information private. In a troubling instance, a top spokesman demanded a correction from TIME after a story pointed out that Clinton’s lawyers only ran searches to determine which messages needed to be turned over to the government as federal records. The spokesman repeatedly said her attorneys read every single e-mail, but that too was found to be false by the FBI. Time and again Clinton didn’t tell the whole truth—and in some cases appears to have lied—to try to brush aside criticism of her arrangement, and each time she did and was proven false she did more damage to her own credibility. Already she suffers mightily on trustworthiness with American voters. Tuesday’s announcement was about as good as it could have been for Clinton, but had she come clean about the private email system as soon as she left the State Department, this wouldn’t be a controversy. It has been a series of unforced errors that may be the most visible symptom of the “Clintonism” that many voters still can’t get behind.
Donald Trump, incapable of allowing a positive news cycle to pass without stepping on it, accused Clinton of “bribing” federal officials in the email case at a rally Tuesday night and then praised former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. “He was a bad guy—really bad guy. But you know what? He did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk,” Trump said. America may have come to regret the war, but Hussein, who tried to assassinate a U.S. president, funded terrorism, and fired missiles at American allies is no hero in their eyes. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan rejected Trump’s logic calling Hussein “evil” in an interview with Fox News, as Clinton campaign policy advisor Jake Sullivan—one of the subjects of the FBI email probe—rushed out with a blistering critique of Trump’s comments. Republican leaders also found themselves condemning the Trump “Star of David” tweet, with Ryan saying he’s told Trump he needs to police his controversial social media presence.
President Obama‘s campaign swing on behalf of Hillary Clinton featured the president overshadowing Clinton in his native format—the rally. Deviating from his remarks to deliver a harsh attack on Trump (even without using his name), Obama focused most of his energy on attesting to Clinton’s qualifications for the job. Far more at home on stage, he ended up upstaging Clinton at her own event, as the White House and Clinton campaign made clear they would be doing fewer joint events in the future.
Hillary Clinton will be campaigning in Atlantic City, where she is highlighting Trump’s failed casino businesses. Her campaign released a video previewing her speech. Donald Trump will be in Cincinnati with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, as he continues to audition potential running mates.
More scrutiny for Trump’s charitable giving. Your questions about Air Force One costs answered. And I’ll chat with RNC Rules committee member Steve Duprey on Sidewire at 1 p.m. ET. You can join here.
Here are your must-reads:
Why the FBI Didn’t Throw the Book at Hillary Clinton
TIME’s Massimo Calabresi on how Clinton potentially violated the law, but skirted prosecution
FBI Says Hillary Clinton Claim on Reading Emails Was False
Her staff gave reporters information the FBI found to be untrue [TIME]
Five Questions We Still Can’t Answer About Donald Trump’s Charity Donations
Little evidence to back Trump’s giving claims [Washington Post]
GOP Foreign Policy Elites Flock to Clinton
It’s perhaps the last, strongest bastion of the #NeverTrump movement: the Republican national security establishment
Obama Joins Hillary Clinton on Stump, Saying She ‘Has Been Tested’
Says anyone, including his daughter, can tweet [New York Times]
“Anti-Semitic images—they’ve got no place in a presidential campaign. Candidates should know that. The tweet has been deleted and I don’t know how long he put this up there. Obviously they’ve got to fix that.” — Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in a radio interview on Donald Trump’s tweet
“Everybody can tweet. But nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you’ve sat behind the desk … I mean, Sasha tweets.” — President Barack Obama implicitly criticizing Donald Trump
Bits and Bites
Judge: Kansas Can’t Cut Planned Parenthood Medicaid Funding [Associated Press]
Former Congressman and Judge Abner Mikva Dies at 90 [Associated Press]
On Hillary Clinton’s Rough Day, Republicans Rue Missed Chance [New York Times]