Comey to address the media this morning [UPDATE: Clinton off the hook]

Katie Pavlich at Townhall reports that FBI Director James Comey will make a statement today at at 11 a.m. He will also take questions from reporters.

A few days ago, the FBI interviewed Hillary Clinton in what, presumably, was one of the final steps in its investigation of the email server scandal. It was reported then that the investigation was winding up.

I don’t know that many expected a decision this quickly after the interview. However, Loretta Lynch’s recent statement that she will accept the decision of career prosecutors and investigators suggested that a decision had been made or had nearly been.

We don’t know that Comey is about to announce the outcome of the investigation. He may simply want to give the world a sense of when a decision will be made. Or maybe he just wants to assure the public, after Lynch meeting with Bill and Obama campaigning with Hillary, that the process is fair.

Conceivably, he will talk about something else entirely.

We will know in an hour.

UPDATE: The FBI is recommending that Clinton not be prosecuted. I think we could see this coming.

Comey’s explanation was odd and unpersuasive on its face. He began by reciting what the law requires for a felony or misdemeanor conviction in cases like this. He noted that gross negligence is the standard for a felony conviction. He then recited the facts as the FBI found them. These facts suggest gross negligence.

When it came time to merge these two strands and present his decision whether to prosecute, Comey made no reference to the legal standard he had articulated a few minutes earlier. Instead, he pulled a switcheroo, formulating a new legal standard based on the elements he says have been present in past cases where prosecutions have been brought for the mishandling of secret/classified information. Gross negligence exited stage left — replaced by intent to harm the U.S., disloyalty, etc.

I don’t know whether Comey is correct about past prosecutions. For example, did David Petraeus’ case meet the criteria Comey articulated this morning. Maybe, since he intended that his mistress see the information he showed her. But more than Comey’s say-so should be required before we buy his assertions regarding past (and present prosecutorial) practice. [Note: I have modified this paragraph slightly since first posting it]

In any event, Comey simply ignored the statutory standard he laid out. A first year associate at a law firm wouldn’t dare present an analysis like this.

The bottom line, though, is that Hillary skates again. The only question is whether there will be blow back from within the FBI.

Even if there is, I don’t think it will hurt her run for the presidency.

ANOTHER THOUGHT: Comey prefaced his remarks by claiming that no one at the Justice Department knows what he’s about to say. While this may have been literally true (i.e., DOJ didn’t know the text), Comey intended, I think, to convey that the Justice Department didn’t know of his decision.

I doubt that his claim passes the straight face test, given what Loretta Lynch has been doing and saying lately.

JOHN adds: The full text of Comey’s remarks is here Comey blasted Clinton’s “extremely careless” handling of classified material, and specifically repudiated her defenses that there was no classified information on her server, or in any event, it wasn’t marked as classified.

For an ordinary politician, these assessments by the FBI would be devastating. Maybe for Hillary, the bar is set so low at this point that they won’t damage her. I doubt that, however. I think these characterizations, assuming they are endlessly repeated on the stump and in television ads, will hurt Hillary rather badly.