Clinton dodges charges, but not voter scrutiny
The fact that the FBI decided not to pursue formal charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her use of private email servers to conduct classified communication likely comes as a surprise to no one.
FBI Director James Comey made the announcement Tuesday morning, ending a yearlong bureau investigation.
Comey said the FBI found that Clinton actually used more than one server and numerous mobile devices during her four years in the State Department. And each of those, while decommissioned, still contained troves of potentially sensitive data accessible to those with the right skills.
The FBI spent thousands of hours piecing together each of the electronic devices, searching email recipients from other areas of the federal government and reviewing the 30,000 emails that Clinton’s legal team returned to the State Department in 2014.
In total, the investigation found that 113 emails in 55 email chains have been determined to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was top secret at the time they were sent; 37 chains contained secret information at the time; and 10 contained confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional emails have been “up-classified” to make them confidential today, although not classified when they were sent.
Comey said the FBI’s investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way.
“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. “There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”
Despite that blistering review, Comey said no charges were warranted.
“No charges are appropriate in this case,” Comey said in making his announcement. “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.”
According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, released two weeks ago, 56 percent of respondents disapproved of the way Clinton has handled questions over her use of the private server.
While Clinton may have avoided criminal charges, the charges against her decision-making may weigh heavier on her future.