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FBI Declares ‘No Charges Are Appropriate’ in Hillary Clinton Email Investigation

Although he did not recommend bringing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, FBI Director Comey expressed displeasure over her use of a personal email server while acting as secretary of state. (Gage Skidmore / CC 2.0)

Although he did not recommend bringing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, FBI Director Comey expressed displeasure over her use of a personal email server while acting as secretary of state. (Gage Skidmore / CC 2.0)

FBI Director James Comey announced Tuesday that his agency does not recommend that criminal charges be brought against Hillary Clinton for her use of a personal email server while acting as secretary of state. “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,” Comey said. He continued:

In looking back at our investigations into 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 materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here. …

As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.

Throughout his statement, however, Comey took several opportunities to express the FBI’s displeasure over Clinton’s use of a personal email server at the time. “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.” He also addressed accusations that Clinton and her team deleted emails before the investigation:

It is also likely that there are other work-related e-mails that they did not produce to State and that we did not find elsewhere, and that are now gone because they deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.

Comey’s statement comes three days after the FBI interviewed Clinton directly. She has expressed frustration over the ongoing investigation and has repeatedly denied using her personal email server to handle classified information. However, as The New York Times notes:

Mrs. Clinton has asserted that she did not send or receive any information marked classified at the time it was sent. But about two dozen emails were designated “top secret,” the highest level of classification, and Mrs. Clinton’s critics say she jeopardized national security.

Several of those pertained to the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan, which is a covert program, though it is widely reported in the Pakistani and American news media.

Comey’s recommendations are directed at the Department of Justice, where Attorney General Loretta Lynch would be responsible for pressing charges. Last week, she became the center of controversy over a brief conversation she had with Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Arizona. Lynch quickly made a public apology and said she would embrace the FBI’s recommendations.

Although Clinton herself has not publicly responded to the FBI’s statement, her presidential opponent, Donald Trump, took to Twitter to express his outrage—specifically over the fact that other “whistleblowers” have faced much harsher penalty:

Comey noted in his statement: “To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences.”

—Posted by Emma Niles

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