South Carolina Republicans lashed out at Hillary Clinton on Tuesday after FBI Director James Comey announced that he did not recommend filing charges against her for using a private email server while she was secretary of state, although he scolded Clinton and her staff for being “extremely careless.”
“It has become clear that the rules are different for the Clintons than they are for every day Americans, and that must stop,” Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., tweeted on Tuesday after Comey took the unusual step of making a public statement on the matter before the Justice Department had made its final decision. The email controversy has been a persistent shadow over Clinton’s presidential campaign.
While the FBI has made their decision, it won’t change the fact that Secretary Clinton flouted oversight and transparency norms by using a private email server.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
“Secretary Clinton's purposeful decision to set up a private email server put our national security at stake,” Scott said in a statement. “Now more than ever, I believe a special prosecutor is needed in order to assure the American people that politics are not overriding the truth in this case.”
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., also took to Twitter to vent about what Republicans denounced as special treatment of Clinton.
“I suppose the takeaway here is pretty clear: just as some banks were too big to fail, some people in our society are just too big to jail,” he tweeted. “And apparently you can get caught in those lies, and 50% of the country still thinks you'd be a super President.”
In his public statement, Comey said that it was possible that “hostile actors” could have gained access to the email accounts of Clinton associates who she regularly contacted, and that the security culture at the State Department was careless with classified information.
“While the FBI has made their decision, it won’t change the fact that Secretary Clinton flouted oversight and transparency norms,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., adding that Clinton had left “sensitive, classified information vulnerable to America’s enemies” by using a private server.
“Secretary Clinton has shown a serious lack of judgement in this entire episode,” he said.
Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., agreed with Graham, saying that Clinton’s actions were “remarkably careless and displayed a lack of judgement.”
“The FBI couldn’t rule out that her server could have been hacked, endangering lives and putting American families at risk,” he said.
The Obama Administration has already taken unprecedented steps to erode the public trust, and unfortunately I see this investigation as just another extension of that poor judgement and corruption.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., offered a more poetic assessment.
“The blindfold has been removed from the arbiter of the scales of justice, forever tilting the scales of justice in favor of the politically powerful,” he said in a statement, maintaining that “the entire process has been tainted” by inappropriate intervention by President Barack Obama. He also pointed out last week’s private meeting between former president Bill Clinton and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
“Not having access to all the facts, I have no way of knowing for certain whether Secretary Hillary Clinton violated the law,” Duncan said. “But based on how this administration has handled this case, I have little faith that this decision was reached completely free of undue political influence.”
Absent from the chorus of criticism on Tuesday was the South Carolina Republican who led the investigation that accidentally uncovered Clinton private server, Benghazi Committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy. His office said he would not be commenting on the FBI’s statement, since Clinton and her email server had not been the focus of Gowdy’s inquiry on the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday that the FBI’s announcement “defies explanation.”
“No one should be above the law. But based upon the director's own statement, it appears damage is being done to the rule of law,” Ryan said in a statement.
South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison defended Clinton, saying that she consistently admitted her mistake.
“She has [...] consistently said that her mistake was not criminal misconduct that would warrant prosecution, and that it was in line with the email practices of previous Republican secretaries of State,” he said. “Today, after an exhaustive FBI investigation, it is clear that the Secretary was right on all these counts.”
Scott and Duncan disagreed, and on Tuesday called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to oversee the investigation into Clinton’s email server.
“Without taking that extra step to ensure impartiality, the American people’s faith in our system of government will only further erode and Secretary Clinton’s legitimacy as a candidate will forever be in question,” Duncan said.
Graham said it would now be up to voters to decide in November’s presidential election whether they trusted Clinton after the controversy.
“The FBI was rightfully harsh in their assessment of her actions,” he said. “Now the American people will have the final say in this matter.”