Clinton Cleared Of Criminal Charges But Politically Issues Remain
WASHINGTON – FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that he would not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. It was very unusual that Comey would hold a press conference about an non indictment.
There remains the FBI report being sent into the Justice Department, but it is very unlikely that Clinton will be indicted.
Comey, is a very respected career investigator and he was not soft on the former secretary of state. He she and her aides were “extremely careless” handling classified information.
“Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey announced after a lengthy recap of the investigation the FBI conducted.
But Comey still had plenty of criticism for Clinton and her State Department colleagues in an unprecedented 15-minute statement delivered Tuesday.
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information,” he said, “there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Even so, Comey added later, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before deciding whether to bring charges.”
Of the 30,000 emails Clinton turned over to the State Department in 2014, Comey announced that 110 emails in 52 separate chains had been determined to contain classified information “at the time they were sent or received.” Of those, he continued, eight included “Top Secret” information, while 36 chains had “Secret” information at the time it was received, while eight contained “Confidential” information, the lowest level of classification. In addition to those, another 2,000 were “up-classified” to make them “Confidential” after they had already been sent.
Comey peppered his remarks with an array of judgmental language directed at Clinton and State Department employees, remarking that in general and particularly with respect to its unclassified email systems, the department was “generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.”
With Attorney General Loretta Lynch having said she would follow the recommendation of the FBI, this means that Clinton is almost certainly in the clear legally on the matter. Politically, though, this could be a serious problem for her campaign as the general election heats up.
And while Clinton has repeatedly claimed that she neither sent nor received information that was deemed classified, Comey commented that “only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information.”
“But even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an email, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it,” Comey said.
‘We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial email accounts of people with whom secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account,’ Comey explained.
The negligence Comey outlined in his statement to reporters could have been enough to result in a criminal prosecution.
But Clinton’s conduct amounted to mere sloppiness, he said.
‘Although we did not find clear evidence that sec Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws,’ Comey said, ‘there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.’
Comey said the FBI determined that before Clinton deleted tens of thousands of her ‘personal’ emails, her attorneys deleted several work-related messages. The lawyers didn’t read them all but searched keywords to determine which of them might qualify as government records.
But despite her incomplete submission to the State Department, he said, ‘we found no evidence that any of the additional work related emails were intentionally deleted.’
‘A very small number’: Emails on Clinton’s private server that were marked classified at the time she sent or received them
By the numbers in the FBI investigation –
30,000: Rough number of Clinton emails the FBI read – but those are just the ones she didn’t delete
110: Clinton emails containing material that was classified at the time she sent or received them
52: Separate email chains that included those 110 messages
3: Emails Clinton never gave the State Department which contained material classified at the time she sent or received them
2,000: Emails containing material that was ‘up-classified’ after the fact even though it wasn’t classified at the time she sent or received them