General | Jul 5, 2016 | Master3395
WASHINGTON — The FBI recommended Tuesday that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges over her use of a private email server as secretary of State, even though she and aides were "extremely careless" in handling classified information.
While FBI Director James Comey criticized Clinton and her aides for carelessly handling classified, top-secret information, he said there is no evidence she intended to do so, the basis for criminal charges.
"Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information," Comey said in a 15-minute statement explaining the investigation, "our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."
Comey said his agency acted apolitically, and went where the facts took them. While, technically, the FBI makes recommendations to Justice Department prosecutors over potential charges, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said she would accept the bureau's views in this case.
"In looking back at our investigations into mishandling of removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts," Comey said.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized the FBI's decision, tweeting that "the system is rigged" and citing charges brought against Gen. David Petraeus over handling of classified information.
"General Petraeus got in trouble for far less," Trump said. "Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment."
In another tweet, Trump noted that the FBI director "said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow."
Clinton, who campaigns later in the day with President Obama in North Carolina, did not address Comey’s statement or the FBI’s findings during a morning speech at the National Education Association in Washington.
Comey, meanwhile, take Clinton and State Department officials to task for their procedures in handling sensitive information.
"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, highly classified information," he said.
Comey said that, of the 30,000 or so Clinton emails provided by the State Department,110 messages in 52 email chains were determined to have contained classified information at the time they were sent or received.
Eight of those email chains contained information that was top secret at the time they were sent or received, the FBI reported; 36 of the email chains contained secret information at the time; and contained lesser confidential information.
The previously unannounced statement came three days after FBI agents interviewed Clinton about her use of private email while secretary of State.
After the Saturday interview, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said the former secretary of State was "pleased to have had the opportunity to assist the Department of Justice in bringing this review to a conclusion."
For months, Trump had predicted that Clinton would not face charges, claiming the Justice Department investigation has been "rigged" in her favor.
Trump and other Republicans protested a recent meeting between Lynch and former president Bill Clinton, the candidate's husband. The two said they discussed personal matters, not the investigation.
Comey spoke just hours before Clinton campaigns in Charlotte along with President Obama, their first joint political appearance of the year.