FBI Director James Comey said his office is not recommending that prosecutors bring charges against Hillary Clinton for handling of classified information in connection to her use of private email servers.
“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,” Comey said Tuesday.
Addressing inevitable complaints about the investigation, Comey emphasized that “this investigation was done honestly, competently, and independently.”
“No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear,” he said. “I know there were many opinions expressed by people who were not part of the investigation — including people in government — but none of that mattered to us. Opinions are irrelevant, and they were all uninformed by insight into our investigation because we did our investigation the right way.”
Comey began his address by explaining what investigators found during their investigation. He said that the investigation showed that 110 emails in 52 email chains were determined to include classified information at the time they were received.
Comey also said the FBI assessed that there was no direct evidence that Clinton’s personal email domain was hacked. It is possible, however, that hostile actors gained access, he added.
He characterized the investigation findings as showing that Clinton and her team were “extremely careless” but he said there was no clear evidence they intended to violate the law.
Still, Comey said the FBI’s recommendation is that Clinton no face criminal charges for her actions.
“Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” he said.
The FBI interviewed Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Clinton for three and a half hours on Saturday as part of the probe into her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, her campaign said.
The interview at FBI headquarters in Washington followed a week of intense public focus on the investigation and on Clinton’s viability as a presidential candidate, with four months to go to the election. Her campaign has tried for months to downplay the controversy as a distraction.
In an interview broadcast on MSNBC, Clinton said she was happy to do the FBI interview, which her spokesman earlier described as “voluntary.”
“I’ve been answering questions for over a year” regarding the private email server, Clinton said.
It was not clear if the questioning of Clinton signaled an imminent conclusion to the investigation in a pivotal time for the presidential race. It does follow FBI interviews of several of Clinton’s former staff members, as well as her top aide Huma Abedin.
Clinton is expected to be formally nominated as the Democratic candidate for the Nov. 8 presidential election at the party’s convention in less than four weeks. The former secretary of state is currently the front-runner for the White House with polls showing her leading presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
In a tweet on Saturday, Trump said it was “impossible for the FBI not to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. What she did was wrong!”