Political America can now exhale. FBI Director James Comey announced today that he would not be recommending any charges be brought against former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMeghan McCain: 'SNL' parodies made me feel like 'laughing stock of the country' Hill: Trump reelection would spur 'one constitutional crisis after another' Trump defends indicted GOP congressman MORE, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, for intentionally mishandling classified information.
While there is certainly a huge sigh of relief coming from Brooklyn headquarters, there's no question that Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE and the Republicans are enraged Comey did not charge Clinton, and that they won't stop trying to use this as a battering ram against her. After all, this was their back-up plan. And it just went up in flames.
It has been clear from the beginning of this mess — and this was a mess of Clinton's making — that the Republicans have been counting on some sort of indictment.
No matter that most law-enforcement experts kept saying that charges were unlikely, and that those with knowledge of the process were saying there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing, and that the Clinton campaign itself was confident no charges would be brought because they knew the secretary did nothing intentionally wrong. Republicans were ready to pounce on Day One.
Now can we focus on 2016??? https://t.co/j5Ui7jifpf— Maria Cardona (@MariaTCardona) July 5, 2016
They were acting as judge, jury and executioner. They had already indicted her, and she was a criminal who under no circumstances would be allowed to continue her campaign for the presidency.
This is yet another example of conservatives and the right-wing extremists being divorced from reality, and having no issues of substance with which to compete with Clinton on the battlefield of ideas. When they dare to do so, that competition and that contrast will always be won by Clinton.
Now that there will be no charges brought against Clinton, Trump and the Republicans will have to get their act together and focus on real issues and real solutions. But we have seen that Trump is incapable of doing so. His first tweet after the FBI announcement was of course one condemning the decision.
FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2016
Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' Cheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge MORE (R-Wis.) did the same.
While I respect the professionals at the FBI, this announcement defies explanation. No one should be above the law. pic.twitter.com/OqctxglquI— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) July 5, 2016
They are now questioning this decision regardless of their repeated assertions that they were confident in the FBI's competence. They can't have it both ways.
Clinton will now put this behind her and focus 100 percent on what she will do for this country, how she will break down barriers for middle-class and working-class Americans who have not felt the full benefits of our economic recovery, and she will bring us together to find real solutions without tearing us apart and without demeaning one another.
Will she ever have to answer another question about this again? Of course she will. The second that she sits down with a journalist or has a press conference, that will be the first question that gets asked. She will underscore that it was a mistake, and that she certainly would not do it again. She will repeat her apology, and again take responsibility. She will say she is glad it is behind her so that she can focus on issues and on gaining back voters' trust, as she has acknowledged she needs to do.
But let's also make something very clear. The issue of how she and her team handled classified information has nothing to do with the fact that she had a private server. There's no question that she shouldn't have had that private server, but even if she had exchanged the same emails on the state.gov email server, the question of handling classified material would be the same. Even past secretaries of State like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and their senior staff got caught up in this imbroglio, having sent and received classified emails on their private email accounts.
The fact is you cannot send or receive classified information on a run-of-the-mill government email server. It needs to be handled on a separate classified system designed to protect this material. This issue is about how an overburdened and inefficient government bureaucracy handles classified email information. As someone who has worked in the government, I have seen this up close.
Let's hope now that this whole episode will push the government to finally fix the bureaucratic inadequacies that differ from agency to agency on how to correctly and safely handle classified information, and finally come up with a government-wide system that everybody can agree on, one that will protect the country's sensitive information in a streamlined and uniform manner.
So while Trump and the Republicans will use this as a campaign issue, it will be received as a political Rorschach test. Conservatives will use it to continue their attacks against Clinton, and Clinton supporters will see this as vindication. She can now focus on the real issues at hand.
Americans who have yet to make up their mind, if there are any, get a chance to see the real contrast between these two candidates. They will see that Trump is temperamentally unfit, completely unqualified and wholly unprepared to be commander in chief. Even with an FBI investigation hanging over her for months, Clinton bests Trump by double digits in many recent polls and by 5 to 10 points in an aggregate of polls.
Yes, they both have high negatives, and yes, they are both unpopular (Trump certainly much more so than Clinton).
But one thing is for certain. There's only one candidate Americans trust who has the temperament to be commander in chief, who shares America's values and who is trusted to protect the middle class. There is only one candidate who believes that we still live in the greatest country in the world, that we are stronger together and that with a champion like her in your corner who will break down barriers instead of building walls, that you can still achieve the American Dream and give your children a better life. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.
Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator.