During the 2016 election campaign, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton received a slew of criticism from Republicans who said she wasn’t qualified to be president because she used a private email server during her time heading the State Department.
Their tough criticism of the former secretary of state could haunt them in the wake of a Washington Post report that said President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian officials during a meeting in the White House last week.
The information Trump relayed to the Russians had been provided to the U.S. by a partner in an intelligence-sharing arrangement, according to The Washington Post. While it did not concern specific intelligence sources and methods, his alleged disclosure could compromise the U.S.’s relationship with that partner.
The president has the authority to declassify information at will, so Trump’s actions are not illegal, as he noted on Twitter Tuesday. But Republicans who called Clinton “reckless” may find themselves in an awkward position in the wake of Trump’s admission.
Trump himself got in on the criticism in July, saying Clinton was “not fit” to be president.
Crooked Hillary Clinton and her team “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” Not fit!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2016
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was one of Clinton’s biggest critics, tweeting at least once a month from July to November about what he called “reckless” and “downright dangerous” actions.
It’s simple: Individuals who are ‘extremely careless’ w/ classified info should be denied further access to it. https://t.co/XWuvfDugly
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) July 7, 2016
The American people need to know what accountability Sec. Clinton will face for her mishandling of classified info. https://t.co/Wrge2UkvAL
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) July 27, 2016
It’s no small matter to hand over classified info to a person as reckless w/ national security info as Sec. Clinton. https://t.co/Wrge2UC6Zl
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 31, 2016
The documents from the FBI demonstrate Hillary Clinton’s reckless & downright dangerous handling of classified info. pic.twitter.com/6tgRJTEOB0
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) September 2, 2016
I renew my call for the Director of National Intelligence to suspend all classified briefings for Secretary Clinton. https://t.co/NgzMLP6lsg
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) October 29, 2016
These documents further demonstrate Secretary Clinton’s complete disregard for handling classified information. https://t.co/s5DektWj9l pic.twitter.com/iwOxJIKHAL
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) November 4, 2016
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Clinton was “disqualified” from being president for her emails.
The FBI’s decision regarding Clinton’s mishandling of classified emails once again proves that she is DQ’d from being Commander in Chief.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 5, 2016
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) suggested Clinton’s actions could have been worthy of jail time.
The appearance is terrible. The decision is astounding. Ppl have gone to jail for less severe classified breaches and national security.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 5, 2016
Republicans have issued more measured responses to the Post’s report, with many calling for more information while hesitating to outright condemn Trump’s actions. Ryan seemed especially cautious in a statement released by his spokesperson, asking for a “full explanation of the facts” while omitting any criticism of the president.
This statement from Speaker Paul Ryan’s office puts the onus on the administration to explain what happened here pic.twitter.com/5t2oKP3IRr
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) May 15, 2017