What a big news day! We’ll cover the FBI announcement and Clinton’s appearance with President Obama — but first, her NEA speech.
Yesterday morning Clinton spoke at the Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly of the National Educational Association in DC, the nation’s largest professional employee union with some 3 million members, which had endorsed herearly in the primary. (Full disclosure: I am currently a member of an NEA-affiliated college faculty union.) The Representative Assembly consists of about 8,000 delegates from state and local affiliates, retired members, and some other designated groups. The speech was livestreamed on www.nbcnews.com and the full video is available at YouTube and on the NEA’s website. Per the report on neaToday’s website (which has more on the content):
In a rousing and passionate address to the National Education Association Representative Assembly on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said the nation needs to give our schools more “TLC “- teaching, learning, and community, the three pillars of her vision to strengthen public education. But any national campaign to create great schools for every student, she added, will only succeed with the strong voices of educators.
“I’m with you,” Clinton declared to enthusiastic applause. “I have this
old-fashioned idea that we should listen to the teachers and the support professionals who are with our kids every day.”
In introducing the presumptive 2016 Democratic nominee,NEA President Lily Eskelsen García described her as someone who has “always spoken truth to power, but it’s the action she’s known for” – on issues, ranging from universal health care to institutional racism.
* * * *
Lifting up educators will be central to Clinton’s plans for public education if she is elected in November. . . .[S]he announced plans to launch a national campaign to elevate the profession that will spotlight the importance of career-long professional development, higher salaries for teachers and education support professionals (“no educator should take on second and third jobs just to get by,” she told the delegates), and relief for crippling student debt. Clinton also said it was an outrage that Education Support Professionals continue to struggle to provide for their own families.
“And supporting educators means supporting unions,” she continued. “Unions helped create the strongest middle class in the history of the world. You’re not just fighting for your members. You’re fighting for your students, and families across the country.”
While Clinton was speaking, across town FBI Director James B. Comey announced the agency’s long-awaited conclusions in the email-gate investigation. (Comey, a Republican who donated to both McCain and Romney’s campaigns, was appointed as FBI Director in 2013 by President Obama; he previously served as US Attorney in New York and Deputy United States Attorney General, both under Bush appointments.) To the surprise of no one who’s been paying rational attention, the FBI has found no basis for any indictment of Clinton for anything. As Comey put it in the government’s official statement outlining what they would recommend to the Justice Department:
....Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.…
In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.
In other words, a criminal indictment requires facts that match up with the legal prohibition, and the laws at issue here (including prior case law interpreting them) don’t criminalize negligence, carelessness, or poor judgment. To repeat, “No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” Prosecutors have an ethical obligation to “refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause.” They are also not supposed to merely respond to lynch mobs. Comey is saying that this case would not satisfy that ethical obligation, and would border on a frivolous (without legal basis) presentation to a grand jury.
We are pleased that the career officials handling this case have determined that no further action by the Department is appropriate. As the Secretary has long said, it was a mistake to use her personal email and she would not do it again. We are glad that this matter is now resolved.
(I particularly like the reference to “the career officials,” reinforcing that this was not a political determination by a tainted Administration political appointee.)
The FBI report will, predictably, not put an end to speculation and insinuations by anti-Clinton commentators (and candidates). (Sanders supporter TomP helpfully points out, however, that the report’s references to “careless” handling of emails don’t matter, because Clinton’s opponent, Trump, is so reckless that he can’t use that line of argument.) It does, however, remove the question mark hanging over Clinton’s candidacy. As experienced Democratic operative Dana Houle tweeted,
Hillary said herself that her vicious detractors, whose hopes for her political demise have been hung on this investigation, would be deeply disappointed; that their “fondest wishes will not be fulfilled.” At the same time, she admitted that she made mistakes with her email server and that she regretted doing it.
It was still a mistake. And as I’ve said many times, if I could go back, I would do it differently.
Now, we have clarity on something that has dominated coverage of the 2016 election. The FBI announced, after its more than year-long investigation, that no criminal charges were appropriate in this case. At the same time, they also confirmed that the mistakes Hillary conceded were indeed worthy of her regrets.
Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall tweeted,
There were numerous reports of an enthusiastic and diverse crowd. I especially liked this photo, from Scan’s Twitter feed:
The speeches themselves were liveblogged (by floridageorge, here, and by Joan McCarter, Part I and Part 2), and have already been diaried on the front page and by Scan (including a link to full video). There weren’t any surprises in the content, although I especially liked Clinton’s offhand jabs at Trump, such as this gem:
[President Obama] has never forgotten where he came from. And [looking up to grin at the audience], Donald, if you’re out there tweeting, it’s Hawaii.
Both of them recognized and highlighted the current members of Congress in the hall, as well as “your next Senator, Deborah Ross, and your next Governor, Roy Cooper.” Unfortunately, there were some problems with the livestream feed (no matter where you were watching). But you can watch the whole thing again, here, and just enjoy our two wonderful leaders reinforcing and playing off each other and the crowd.
Before returning to Washington, Clinton and Obama made good on Obama’s promise to get some good North Carolina food, stopping for take-out at Midwood Smokehouse near the Convention Center.
So that’s the day, one of the momentous days of this long campaign, that turned out as well as we could have hoped. A reminder to ignore the teeth-gnashing diaries or those designed to draw Hillary supporters into unwinnable “debates.” She’s got the nomination, and if we keep our eyes on the ground game and GOTV, she’s got November as well. If you need a reminder of why we’re doing all this, go watch the video of Obama’s speech again.