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Another Clinton 'conspiracy' debunked

The FBI's conclusion that Ms. Clinton broke no laws should be the case of her 'damn emails,' but it probably w

Today's announcement by FBI Director James B. Comey that he won't recommend criminal charges against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state should finally put to rest the long-running allegations of misconduct that have dogged her candidacy for more than a year. While it was clear that the use of the private email server was a mistake — as Ms. Clinton has admitted — the agency found no credible evidence that she intentionally sent or received documents marked classified, or that U.S. national security was compromised as a result. Over the weekend, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch publicly pledged to follow the recommendation of the FBI's career prosecutors in the Clinton case. Now that they've made their decision, that should be the end of the story.

But we suspect it won't be. When it comes to Ms. Clinton, her critics have never let any scandal die, no matter how ill supported it may be by evidence or how much time has passed. This election season has seen Republicans take after her not just for the email issue or her handling of the Benghazi attacks of 2012 (a revelation-free, multi-million-dollar Congressional investigation notwithstanding) but for ancient tempests in teapots as well. Donald Trump, her presumptive Republican opponent, has even dredged up conspiracy theories about the death of White House aide Vincent Foster more than 20 years ago. We expect to be hearing again about her luck with cattle futures any day.

There is no reason to believe that the FBI's recommendation against further action toward Ms. Clinton was influenced by politics or that the system is "rigged," as many Trump supporters apparently believe. Mr. Comey has served as a high official under both Republican and Democratic administrations. He was appointed U.S. deputy attorney general by Republican President George W. Bush in 2003, and he's served as President Barack Obama's FBI chief since 2013. He is a dedicated public servant whose impeccable reputation for integrity is unquestioned, and he didn't exactly pull any punches today in describing Ms. Clinton's handling of her email as "extremely careless," among other things. If he says "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring a case against Ms. Clinton for her handling of classified information on her private server, we should believe him.

Mr. Comey's decision underscores the irrelevance of last week's brief, unscheduled meeting between Ms. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton while their planes were both sitting on the tarmac at an airport in Phoenix. Was it monumentally stupid of the former president to wander over to Ms. Lynch's plane? Yes. But it is also clear that the conversation — reportedly about golf and grandchildren — made no difference to the federal probe, which was by then wrapping up. Ms. Lynch later apologized for the incident and pledged to play no part in the Clinton investigation. Mr. Comey now has taken full responsibility for the decision to drop the case.

That won't matter to Republicans who have been waiting for Hillary Clinton to self-destruct for nearly three decades. Mr. Trump's tweets about a "#RiggedSystem" confirm we haven't heard the last of this. But it should matter to Democrats and independent voters. A subtext for the Bernie Sanders supporters who have been holding off on embracing Ms. Clinton was fear that an indictment between now and Election Day could be the "October surprise" that hands the presidency to Mr. Trump. Now Democrats are in a much stronger position to unify their party behind Ms. Clinton over the remaining months of the campaign.

Ms. Clinton's "damn emails," as Mr. Sanders memorably described them, have been a distraction practically from the moment she announced her candidacy last year. It's past time the country moved on to the more serious issues of character, temperament and policy that really matter to voters when they cast their ballots in November.

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