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Ryan on Clinton Investigation: 'It Appears Damage is Being Done to the Rule of Law'

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) speaks during the media availability at Republican National Committee headquarters following the House Republican Conference meeting in Washington on Feb. 2, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans expressed dismay at FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the agency had recommended against charges for Hillary Clinton in her use of private email servers.

The final determination will be by the Justice Department. The White House did not comment on the FBI’s finding.

“I can first confirm what Director Comey said with regard to the White House, which is that no one at the White House received advance notice of his comments,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One. “In fact, no one at the White House received advance notice that he was planning to make comments today.”

“With regard to a reaction from the White House, I don’t have an official reaction to share. The reason for that is simply that, while the FBI is completing their investigation, the career prosecutors at the Department of Justice still have to make a final determination about how and whether to proceed. And we have gone to great lengths to avoid the appearance of interfering with this ongoing process.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the announcement “defies explanation.”

“No one should be above the law,” Ryan said. “But based upon the director’s own statement, it appears damage is being done to the rule of law. Declining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent.”

“The findings of this investigation also make clear that Secretary Clinton misled the American people when she was confronted with her criminal actions,” he added. “While we need more information about how the Bureau came to this recommendation, the people will reject this troubling pattern of dishonesty and poor judgment.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) highlighted Comey’s description of Clinton’s handling of classified information as “extremely careless.”

“This sort of irresponsibility can directly jeopardize U.S. national security and put people’s lives at risk. Our military servicemembers and intelligence professionals are often involved in dangerous operations, and they deserve to know their missions will not be imperiled by careless government officials and their derelict staff members,” Nunes said. “I hope the irresponsible handling of classified information documented by the FBI will be considered if any of these individuals currently possesses a security clearance or applies for one in the future.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who used to lead the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the “stunning decision shows just what the American people are so tired of: a system where the Clintons and the politically-connected few get to play by a different set of rules from everyone else.”

“Despite declining to recommend charges, the FBI director’s press conference today was nothing short of damning. It proved that Secretary Clinton was not only ‘extremely careless’ in her handling of classified information, but also that she knew better and did it anyway,” Issa said.

“Under similar circumstances, anyone else would have to bear the consequences for their actions, but in this case, justice and accountability seem to have evaded the American people once again.”

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) called the decision “unsurprising,” yet something that “serves as yet another reminder that the integrity of this investigation has been politicized from start to finish.”

“Instead of creating certainty and instilling faith in our justice system, the Director’s statement only raised more questions about the process,” Sessions said. “The FBI’s report found that Mrs. Clinton used not one but multiple private servers, transmitted 110 emails that were classified at the time, and deleted ‘personal’ emails that contained professional and most likely sensitive information. Despite these facts, the FBI still concluded that Mrs. Clinton did not break the law or, at the bare minimum, know that her actions were completely irresponsible.”

“How can the American people expect our law enforcement officials to hold others accountable if we do not hold a former aecretary of State and current candidate to hold the highest office in the country to the highest standard of the law?”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said that “now more than ever, I believe a special prosecutor is needed, in order to assure the American people that politics are not overriding the truth in this case.”

“It has become clear that the rules are different for the Clintons than they are for everyday Americans, and that must stop,” Scott said.