FBI Says Clinton 'Extremely Careless' with Emails, Classified Info
A lengthy probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation has found that Hillary Clinton should not face charges for using a personal email service while she was Secretary of State, although her handling of classified information in email communications was "extremely careless."
FBI Director James Comey (pictured above) announced the findings of his agency's investigation in a press briefing this morning in Washington, D.C. He said the FBI would recommend to the U.S. Department of Justice that "no charges are appropriate in this case," although he noted it would be up to the Justice Department to make a final decision on the matter.
The FBI investigation began last July after the Intelligence Community Inspector General issued a referral indicating that Clinton's use of a private email service could have involved mishandling of classified information. Comey said today that the FBI reached its conclusion without any coordination or review with the Justice Department or any other government agency.
Eight Chains with 'Top Secret' Info
Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, served as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013. During her time at the U.S. Department of State, she used several private email servers rather than the federal government's systems to send and receive work-related emails.
Clinton and the State Department have said those privately managed emails did not contain any information that was classified at the time they were sent. However, Comey said today that the FBI's investigation found that out of 30,000 messages provided by Clinton to the State Department, 110 in 52 email chains contained information that was classified at the time. They included eight email chains with top secret information, the highest classification, along with 36 containing secret information and eight with confidential information.
The investigation also found that three of several thousand other work-related emails -- beyond the 30,000 provided by Clinton -- also included classified 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," Comey said today.
No 'Direct Evidence' of Email Hacking
Many of Clinton's political critics have suggested that her use of private email servers could have endangered national security by exposing classified information to potential hacking. Comey said the FBI's investigation found no "direct evidence" of such intrusion, but concluded that hostile actors did gain access to the private commercial email accounts of people Clinton contacted regularly via her personal account.
"She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries," Comey said. "Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's personal e-mail account."
Comey said the FBI investigation did not find evidence of actions that would warrant criminal charges. Such actions would have included "clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information," exposure of material suggesting intentional misconduct, signs of disloyalty to the U.S. or efforts to obstruct justice.
Following Comey's briefing, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, tweeted, "Gross Negligence = blatant indifference to one's legal duty. Comey defined @HillaryClinton's actions as gross negligence in that presser."
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee in the presidential race, also took to Twitter following Comey's announcement, writing, "The system is rigged. General Petraeus got in trouble for far less. Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment."
News about the FBI investigation led to "Clinton" being the top trending item on Twitter this afternoon, with more than 610,000 tweets using that hashtag.