Only the voters can now decide to keep Hillary Clinton from being involved in our national security secrets; the FBI cleared her of all federal charges and the president is not beholden to a security clearance. If she’s elected – and probably before that point – she will have access to classified briefings, regardless of how careless she has been with that information in the past.
The same, however, cannot be said for her top aides: Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan. Both of them were implicated in the private server scandal, both of them helped Hillary violate State Department regulations, and neither of them will be president. And for those reasons, Republicans are pressuring federal officials to block these two individuals from ever receiving classified information again.
To that end, Senator John Cornyn and Senator Cory Gardner have proposed a bill that would “prohibit any officer or employee of the federal government who has exercised extreme carelessness in the handling of classified information from being granted or retaining a security clearance.”
The use of that specific term – “extreme carelessness” – is no coincidence. It is exactly how FBI Director James Comey described the actions of Hillary and her staff. Not punishable by law, he insisted, but disturbing nonetheless.
Is this a sideshow, though? Is this just the Republicans trying to satisfy an angry and frustrated electorate?
Well, to some degree, yes. Nailing Clinton was the goal. Revoking security clearances for her aides is such small potatoes that it barely qualifies as a consolation prize. And that’s especially true since, as president, Hillary can simply override any security recommendations and keep Abedin and Sullivan in the fold.
On the other hand, Republicans would be wise to keep this scandal fresh in the minds of the American people. We have a very short attention span; today’s enraging headline is tomorrow’s “oh yeah…I forgot about that.” No one should ever forget what Clinton did, and no one should ever forget that she got away with it.
Blocking Abedin and Sullivan won’t really keep our country safer. It won’t restore the rule of law that was so flagrantly ignored in this case. It won’t hold powerful Democrats accountable for their actions.
But let’s do it anyway. Let’s do it because it’s politically expedient, and because it gives us a very small measure of satisfaction. But mostly, let’s do it because it’s the right thing to do.
That’s a reason we don’t use nearly enough.