Hillary Clinton will not face criminal charges for using a private e-mail server during her term as Secretary of State, according to James Comey, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Tuesday.
In a press conference, Director Comey announced the FBI’s recommendation and provided more details about the agency’s process in its investigation on Mrs. Clinton’s private e-mail server. The agency believes the American people deserve those details given the fact that the issue is under intense public scrutiny. He also pointed out that he did not coordinate his statement in any way with the Department of Justice (DOJ) or any other government agency.
The FBI Director explained that the agency started investigating Mrs. Clinton’s use of private e-mail server after receiving a referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General. The FBI’s inquiry was focused on determining whether the former Secretary of State improperly stored or transmitted classified information on her personal system intentionally or in a grossly negligible way, and if she knowingly removed classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.
The FBI also investigated whether hostile actors or nations gained access to her personal e-mail server.
During its investigation, the FBI found that Mrs. Clinton used several different private e-mail servers and administrators during her term as Secretary of State. She also used numerous mobile devices to send and read e-mails. The older servers were taken out of service, decommissioned, stored in various ways as new servers and equipment are installed.
The FBI also read all of the approximately 30,000 e-mails provided by Mrs. Clinton to the State Department 2014. An e-mail considered to be containing classified information was referred by the FBI to any government agency that might be an owner of that information. That agency could make a determination whether that e-mail contain classified information at the time it was sent or received or whether there was reason to classify it now even if the content had been classified when it was first sent to her—a process called up-classified.
According to Director Comey, 110 e-mails from 52 e-mails chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of the e-mails contained top secret information, 36 contained secret information, and 8 contained confidential information. He added that around 2,000 additional e-mails were up-classified as confidential.
The FBI also discovered several thousand work related e-mails that were deleted over the years, but the agency found traces of them on servers or devices that have been connected. Three of those e-mails were classified—one at secret level and two at confidential level.
Director Comey pointed out that they found” no evidence” that those e-mails were intentionally deleted to conceal them in some way. According to him, then former Secretary Clinton periodically deleted e-mails just like many other users or e-mails were purged from her system when devices were changed.
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Sec. Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly-sensitive information.”
FBI says no reasonable prosecutor would file charges against Clinton
Based on the results of its investigation, the FBI made a recommendation that there is no evidence to support the filing of criminal charges against Mrs. Clinton.
Director Comey said no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges against Mrs. Clinton although there is a potential violence regarding the statutes of handling classified information.
He explained that prosecutors consider several factors before making a decision whether to bring charges including the strength of the evidence especially regarding intent, the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.
Director Comey emphasized, “In looking back at our investigations, into the mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.”
“All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information or vast quantities of information exposed in such a way that support inference of intentional misconduct or indication of disloyalty to the United States or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here,” added Director Comey.
Director Comey further stated, “We are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.”
He also assured Americans that the FBI investigated Mrs. Clinton’s personal e-mail server “honestly and independently.”