DEAR VOTERS: It’s Up to You to Decide if Hillary’s Email Scandal Matters

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 10.22.51 AMAfter the FBI decision to ‘not prosecute’ Hillary came through yesterday, the nation was rocked. So, voters… if you didn’t like the decision made yesterday, show it in the polls.

The mixed FBI judgment on Hillary Clinton’s email practices – that she’d shown extreme carelessness in her handling of classified information but not enough to merit criminal charges – left Democratic Party loyalists in a familiar place: relieved, exasperated and yet hopeful, with fingers crossed, that once again the Clintons had won.

It was another chapter in what’s now a 25-year-old saga that has seen Hillary and Bill Clinton survive controversies that usually end political careers. Think Bill Clinton’s denials of an extramarital affair early in his 1992 campaign for the presidency or his 1998 impeachment after the separate Monica Lewinsky dalliance exposed him to obstruction-of-justice claims.

Yet he wound up completing his term in 2001 with a 66 percent Gallup approval rating and his wife had been elected to the Senate.

The email mess that came to the public’s attention a year ago had been a weight around Hillary Clinton that she couldn’t shake, not with attempts at humor or lengthy explanations. Now it’s left to voters to settle whether the finding by FBI Director James Comey that no criminal charges are merited will put an end to the controversy.

In focus groups in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Florida throughout this year, McClatchy found that the emails kept coming up among undecided voters. While most people were not familiar with the emails’ contents, they thought this much: They were stark evidence that Clinton was arrogant and untrustworthy.

The question now: Does Comey’s exoneration counter that view, even though the FBI found that Clinton and her aides “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information”?

Democratic insiders were nearly universal in their praise for the FBI’s recommendation of no charges.

“Most voters will see this as Secretary Clinton doing 67 mph in a 65 mile zone and the officials say, ‘No ticket,’ ” said Bob Mulholland, a Chico, California-based Democratic consultant and convention superdelegate for Clinton.

Reaction from rival Bernie Sanders and his backers was largely muted. National Nurses United, one of the Vermont senator’s most vocal supporters, had no comment. Sanders himself had no statement, and he was tweeting about trade and environmental change in the immediate hours after the FBI announcement.

Sanders has been wary of sharply criticizing Clinton over the email controversy, calling it a “very serious issue.” His focus is on affecting the party platform, which party officials will be writing later this week.

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