There is no basis for criminal charges to be filed against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State, FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday.
Even so, he emphasized that Clinton and her staff were "reckless" and "extremely careless" in handling official and personal communications.
"Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before deciding whether to bring charges," said Comey in a press conference, noting that there are obvious considerations like the strength of the evidence and the matter of using responsible decisions.
"They also consider the context of a person's actions and how similar situations have been handled in the past," said Comey. "In looking back at our investigations, into the mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts."
Over the weekend, following the controversy surrounding a private meeting between U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton, Lynch said that she would not remove herself from the case, but would likely follow the FBI's recommendations.
Comey said Tuesday that all decisions to prosecute cases rest with a prosecutor's office, and would have to involve "some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information or vast quantities of information exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct or indications of disloyalty to the United States or an effort to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here."
But, he said to be clear, the findings are not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person engaged in such activity would face no consequences, Comey said.
"To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions but that's not what we are deciding here," said Comey. "As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice to argue that no charges are appropriate in this case."
Comey said he knows there will be "intense public debate" in wake of the FBI's recommendation, and he can assure the American people that "the investigation was done honestly, confidently and independently."
And while only a small number of emails in Clinton's server contained information that they were classified, said Comey, those sending or receiving it should have known whether or not it was marked they were still "obligated to protect it. "
"The use of unclassified systems in particular was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the U.S. government," said Comey.
Before announcing the FBI's recommendations in the case, Comey noted that he was giving an unusual statement, as he believes the American people deserved the details in a case of intense public interest.
He said he did not coordinate the statement or review it first with the Department of Justice or with any other part of the government, and "they do not know what I am about to say."
The investigation began following a referral from the intelligence community's inspector general about Clinton's use of a personal email server and about whether classified information had been transmitted.
"Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence that classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system in violation of a federal statute that makes it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way," said Comey, and "for a second statute, making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities."
While Comey referred to the use of one email server, over Clinton's four years as Secretary of State, she used "several different servers and administrators of those servers," and as new equipment was used, the older ones were decommissioned and email software was removed, while the content was saved.
"It was like removing the frame from a huge unfinished jigsaw puzzle and then dumping all the pieces on the floor," said Comey. "The effect was that millions of email fragments ended up in the servers unused or its lack space. We searched through all of it to understand what was there and what parts of the puzzle we could put back together again.
Investigators also read all of the 30,000 emails Clinton provided to the State Department in 2014, and where emails were assessed as containing classified information, the FBI referred the documents to the pertinent government agencies, Comey continued.
"From the group of 30,000 emails returned to the State Department in 2014, 110 emails in 52 email chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received," said Comey.
"Eight of those chains contain information that was top-secret at the time they were sent, 36 of those chains contain secret information at the time and eight contain confidential information at the time."
The FBI also discovered thousands of other work-related emails that were not among those released in 2014, through messages that deleted or through archived accounts of other government employees.
There was no evidence that the work emails were intentionally deleted, he continued, and the assessment was that Clinton periodically deleted emails, like many other people do, and conceded that some of the additional work emails could be among those deleted as being personal by her attorneys.
And last, there was extensive work to determine if Clinton's email was compromised, and "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," said Comey, including her use of email systems while in foreign countries.
"With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton's personal email domain and its various configurations from 2009 was hacked successfully," said Comey.
"But given the nature of the system, and of the actors potentially involved, we assess it would be unlikely to see such direct efforts."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.