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First Read: How the Email Saga Sums Up the Clintons

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Email saga sums up the Clintons over the last 20 years

The good news for Hillary Clinton after yesterday: The final hurdle she had to clear in the email story -- whether or not she broke the law -- is now behind her, with the FBI’s decision not to recommend any charges. The bad news: FBI Director James Comey took out his ruler and whacked Clinton’s knuckles for being “careless” while contradicting many of her past statements, which Republicans are sure to use over the next four months (see this new RNC video here). So she received a legal bill of health, but not a political one. Yet more than anything else, the entire email saga epitomizes the Clintons over the last 20 years, whether it’s the Lewinsky scandal, the Marc Rich pardon, or the set-up of the Clinton Foundation. They’re careless. They exercise poor judgment. But there’s not enough to expel them. And oh, the opposition is worse -- or takes the criticism way too far. Indeed, against any other 2016 competitor, Hillary Clinton would be in a world of political hurt right now. But her opponent is Donald Trump.

Not quite on message

Trump blasts Hillary -- as well as James Comey and Loretta Lynch. And he praises Saddam Hussein, to boot: In his rally in North Carolina last night, Trump seized on the email news, but also created some other news that distracted from yesterday’s findings. “It's a tragedy, because we're a country of law. We're a country of order. Other people have been so badly hurt by doing things so much less than Crooked Hillary Clinton,” he said, adding: “Today is the best evidence ever that we've seen that our system is absolutely, totally rigged. It's rigged.” Bottom line here: Trump was not only attacking Clinton; he was blasting Comey and the FBI. Trump also suggested that Hillary Clinton bribed Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “So Hillary said today, at least according to what I saw on television, which you can't always believe, I actually found it hard to believe she'd say this -- but she said today that we may consider the attorney general to go forward. That's like a bribe, isn't it? Isn't that sort of a bribe? I think it's a bribe.” And to top it off, Trump praised Saddam Hussein. “Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right? He was a bad guy. Really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn't read them the rights, they didn't talk -- they were a terrorist, it was over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq. It's like Harvard.”

Obama passes the baton to Clinton

Yesterday’s email news overshadowed Barack Obama first campaign event for Clinton, where he directly said he was passing his baton to the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, per NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald. “Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton eight years ago with the help of his charm and vitality — and on Tuesday he demonstrated how he plans to harness those gifts this time to help his former opponent get elected. ‘I have run my last campaign,’ Obama said at his first election stop of the year with Clinton. ‘And I couldn't be prouder of the things we have done together. But I'm ready to pass the baton. And I know Hillary Clinton is going to take it.’” Consider it a preview of what we’re likely to see at the Democratic convention later this month.

Clinton goes full Joe Pesci on Trump’s casinos

At 12:15 pm ET, Clinton delivers remarks from Atlantic City, NJ, where she will hit Trump for his multiple bankruptcies and how he stiffed contractors, per a Clinton official. “In Trump’s Atlantic City gamble, small businesses lost,” a new Clinton web video says. “In Trump’s Atlantic City gamble, vendors lost… And Donald Trump stacked the deck for himself.” However, this event won’t get the same kind of lift it would have after yesterday’s email news.

Trump stumps with Newt

NBC’s Katy Tur previews Trump’s campaign event with Newt Gingrich in Cincinnati, OH at 7:00 pm ET: “Will Newt Gingrich get a rose? Trump is in Cincinnati today campaigning with Gingrich as part of his unusual in-person running mate try-outs. It's almost as if we are watching an episode of ‘The Bachelor.’ Last night, Bob Corker made his pitch -- trying to win over the rowdy crowd with quiet praise of Trump's off stage demeanor… Tonight will be different. Trump won't be left alone to pick apart Clinton's FBI review. He'll have a master Clinton badger at his side.” Then again, that master Clinton badger was out of a job before Bill Clinton was out of his…

A month has now passed since Clinton became the presumptive nominee, and Bernie Sanders still hasn’t conceded the race -- or endorsed:

Just another reminder:

  • Days it took for Hillary Clinton to endorse Barack Obama after he became the party’s presumptive nominee: 4
  • Days it has taken Bernie Sanders to endorse Clinton: 30 -- and counting.

And by the way, Sanders lost another primary yesterday: the FBI primary. If he was holding out conceding or endorsing because of a potential FBI finding, well, he didn’t get that. Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs told NBC’s Danny Freeman that this decision from the FBI and James Comey does not have any bearing on whether Sanders will drop out or not.

Veepstakes Watch

Our team is out with their latest installation of VP Watch, a roundup of all the Veepstakes news out there… NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell confirms that Bob Corker is being formally vetted for the jobVaughn Hillyard and Ali Vitali look at how Team Trump is mulling the merits of two prominent possible picks: Newt Gingrich and Mike Pence… The AP calls Trump’s shortlist “heavy with Washington insiders” … POLITICO calls Sherrod Brown Hillary Clinton’s “Rust Belt ambassador” … And don’t miss Kailani Koenig’s story from earlier this week with an in-depth look at why Tim Kaine could be Clinton’s choice.

On the trail

Hillary Clinton, in Atlantic City, NJ, gives a speech on Trump’s business record at 12:15 pm ET… And Donald Trump holds a rally in Cincinnati, OH with Newt Gingrich at 7:00 pm ET. Don’t forget to check out the political unit’s rolling minute-to-minute coverage of all the latest 2016 developments at the On the Trail liveblog at NBCNews.com.