FBI Director James Comey stated on Tuesday his that agency is not recommending for any criminal charges to be brought against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while Secretary of State.
Though sparing Clinton of formal charges, Comey did put forward a scathing rebuke of her email practices as the nation’s top diplomat.
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary 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 information,” the FBI chief told reporters.
He revealed that investigators discovered 52 email chains running through Clinton’s insecure server that contained classified information. That included eight threads with “top secret” information, 36 with a “secret” designation, and eight with classified info.
Another 2,000 messages were later deemed classified after they had been sent and received.
“There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in secretary Clinton’s position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about those matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation,” Comey said.
The findings directly contradict claims made by Clinton herself earlier this year, in response to a probe by an Intelligence Community Inspector General that turned up classified emails on Clinton’s personal server.
“I never sent or received any material marked classified, and that hasn’t changed in all of these months,” Clinton alleged in January. “This, seems to me, to be, you know, another effort to inject this into the campaign. It’s another leak.”
Comey noted Tuesday the FBI’s investigation itself was prompted by the internal investigation.
He also stated on Tuesday that there was “evidence of potential violations” by former Secretary of State Clinton and her team. It is the FBI’s judgment, however, that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey said.
The FBI Director also revealed information that has been previously unknown regarding the Clinton email saga.
He reported that investigators had discovered “several thousand” work-related emails that were not turned over to the State Department by Clinton, as required. The bureau discovered the missing correspondence by combing through decommissioned servers and archived email inboxes belonging to other government officials who had communicated with Clinton.
“We found no evidence that any of the additional work related emails were intentionally deleted,” Comey claimed. He suggested that Clinton’s lawyers may have incidentally deleted the messages while using an insufficient method to differentiate between work-related and personal emails.
The bureau also revealed it was likely that Clinton’s personal email server was compromised by foreign hackers.
Agents couldn’t find direct evidence of an intrusion, but Comey noted that individuals who had been corresponding with Clinton during her time at State had their personal accounts hacked. He also said that Clinton herself had extensively used her private email, sending and receiving messages while abroad in “territory of sophisticated adversaries.”
Therefore, Comey, said on Tuesday, “we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to secretary Clinton’s personal email account.”
The FBI investigation into Clinton began last summer. Questions about the objectivity of the probe arose last week after it was reported that Attorney General Loretta Lynch had met privately with Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Arizona.
Comey insisted that politics had no effect on the inquiry. “No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear,” he said Tuesday.