Republicans wasted no time in criticizing the FBI's decision not to recommend criminal charges to the Justice Department after its investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails as Secretary of State. House Speaker Paul Ryan released one of the the strongest reactions, saying the decision "defies explanation" and will "set a terrible precedent."
"No one should be above the law. But based upon the director's own statement, it appears damage is being done to the rule of law," Ryan said. "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."
FBI Director James Comey's announcement that "no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case" regarding Clinton's private email servers while Secretary of State comes less than a month before the Democratic Party is expected to nominate Clinton as its presidential nominee.
While Ryan's statement was critical of the law enforcement agency, other Republicans said that the decision doesn't release Clinton from the damaging narrative and the underlying belief that the Clinton's operate outside the confines of the law.
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump called the system "rigged."
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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is running for reelection, said Clinton's actions "were grossly negligent, damaged national security and put lives at risk."
"It's only a matter of time before the next shoe drops and the nexus of corruption and controversy that has surrounded Hillary Clinton throughout her time in public office produces yet another scandal for the American people to endure," Rubio added.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is locked in a competitive race for her Senate seat, said the FBI's decision "suggests that she gets to play by a different set of rules than everyone else."
Tainting the optics and providing fodder for distrustful skeptics, Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac in Phoenix.
"I'm not particularly surprised by it," former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports Tuesday. He added that the decision not to recommend indictment is "secondary to the issue of extraordinary poor judgment."
And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker noted the security angle in a Tweet. Comey said that "it is possible that hostile actors" were able to access Clinton's personal email account. .
Some Democrats also weighed in, including a potential running mate to Clinton, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who said he is "not surprised" at the FBI's conclusion for a different reason than Republican critics.
"I have long believed that this was not going to be any more than what Sec. Clinton said, which is she said, 'Look, I did something that other secretaries of State have done.'"