Tuesday morning, FBI Director James Comey announced that his agency’s investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s handling of a private email server while she was Secretary of State has come to a close. He also added that the FBI will recommend against criminal charges for Secretary Clinton, stating that “no reasonable prosecutor” could determine that charges were warranted here. It’s an announcement that will surprise no one who is familiar with the underlying law and ordinary Justice Department practices in a case such as this one.
Nevertheless, in part because calls for a Clinton indictment were amplified by Republicans at the highest levels, and in part because of what Josh Marshall described as the media-industrial complex’s quest for “wingnut page views,” the idea that Clinton may face criminal charges has lingered for months. Here’s what you need to know about why such charges were never a realistic possibility.