The Chairmen of Erie County’s political committees are having mixed reactions to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the bureau is not recommending presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton be criminally charged for mishandling classified data on private email servers.
Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner said he believes the FBI conducted a thorough investigation into the use of private email servers by Clinton during her time as Secretary of State.
In a Tuesday morning press conference, Comey said the investigation found that 110 emails and 52 email chains sent or received by Clinton and her team on the private servers included classified information. He called the actions “extremely careless,” but not evident of intent to violate the law. Zellner said Clinton did the same as some of those who came before her.
“I think everybody in government and in this campaign has been questioned and talked to over this thing, and I think she continued the protocol of some of her predecessors as Secretary of State,” said Zellner.
Zellner’s counterpart in the county, Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy said he’s puzzled by the FBI Director’s statement. He said all but the last few minutes of Comey’s statement sounded as though they were leading up to the announcement of an indictment.
“Multiple times using the term “extremely careless” and saying that any reasonable person should have known better I think is very damning against Hillary Clinton,” said Langworthy. “I’m very confused why, ultimately, gross negligence isn’t the charge that’s brought on Secretary Clinton.”
Comey said that though there is evidence of potential violations of laws on handling classified material, the FBI’s judgement is that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” against Clinton. Langworthy said despite the lack of charges, the statement shows Clinton as “someone that has put her own political aspirations ahead of the security of the United States of America.” He said Clinton is being treated with a different set of rules from the rest of Americans.
While Comey’s statement may signal an end to the possibility of the server saga continuing on the legal stage, it’s sure to continue on the political stage – something both Zellner and Langworthy agree on.
Zellner said that while he thinks it’s time to move on from the matter and focus on “issues that affect people’s lives every day,” he expects opponents on the presidential campaign trail are likely to continue attacking Clinton “just like they’ve done with other issues like Benghazi, which has been investigated nine times and nothing criminal or nothing problematic has come about it for her. I think that it’s a political season and anybody can say anything.”
Langworthy confirmed that suspicious, saying that “clips of this press conference are going to be repeated in television ads over and over and over.”
Zellner said he expects Clinton will respond to the announcement soon. Her republican opponent Donald Trump took to Twitter during Comey’s announcement to share his shock that there will be no criminal charges for Clinton.
Comey's full statement is available here.