By MICHELLE MARCHANTE
After a year long in-depth investigation, the FBI has decided that even though there is sufficient evidence that Hillary Clinton used her private email server incorrectly, she should not be indicted because it was a “mistake.”
On Tuesday, July 6, FBI Director James Comey announced through a televised press conference that he would not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton.
“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 during the press conference.
During the investigation, the FBI found that out of 30,000 emails Clinton handed over to the State Department, 110 emails from 52 email chains contained information that was considered classified at the time they were sent or received. Out of those 110, eight of those chains contained information that was considered Top Secret, 36 were considered Secret and eight were Confidential.
Additionally, Comey said that about 2,000 additional emails were not considered classified when they were sent but were then later turned into Confidential information.
These findings, according to The New York Times, contradict Clinton’s constant assertions that none of the emails in her private server were considered classified at the time she sent or received them.
According to Comey, the FBI also discovered several thousand work-related emails that were not originally part of the 30,000 emails that were returned to the State in 2014.
“With respect to the thousands of emails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level,” Comey said.
Comey did not go into details on what the topics of these classifies were but, according to The New York Times, it’s believed that a number of these emails “involved drone strikes.”
Comey also emphasized that they found no evidence that these discovered emails were not “intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them,” but that Clinton either “periodically deleted emails or emails were purged from the system when devices were changed,” or there was no way to archive them since she wasn’t using a government account or a commercial account like Google.
Comey also admitted that they weren’t able to retrieve all of her emails because the lawyers who sorted Clinton’s emails in 2014 deleted all emails that weren’t returned to the State and “cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.”
Even though the FBI has concluded that Clinton should not be indicted for these findings, Comey said that the presence of these emails on an unclassified system is concerning because these emails “were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government- or even with a commercial service like Gmail.”
Only a small number of emails had markings that indicated them to be classified information but according to Comey, anyone who knew or should know that the subject matter is classified is obligated to protect it.
The possibility of foreign governments having hacked into her private server and gained access to classified information was one of the main point of concerns in this investigation but according to Comey, while it’s possible for a hacking to have occurred, the FBI was unable to find any direct evidence due to the “nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved.”
What the FBI does know is that “hostile [hackers]” did gain access to the private commercial email accounts of people whom Clinton contacted with through her personal account, that a large number of people were aware of Clinton using a personal email domain and that she used this personal email “extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries.”
“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…Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past,” Comey said.
Based on previous similar cases, Comey said that the FBI was unable to find any combination involving “intentional and willful mishandling” of classified information, “vast quantities of materials exposed” that would support intentional misconduct, indications of her being disloyal to the United States or an attempt to stop justice.
Therefore, even though Comey said that in similar circumstances a person who engaged in this type of activity would often be subjected to “security or administrative sanctions” they’ve decided not to do that with Clinton.
“[A]lthough the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to [the Department of] Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case,” Comey said.
As of Wednesday, July 6, The Department of Justice has released a statement by Attorney General Loretta Lynch stating that she has decided to accept the FBI’s recommendation and not charge Clinton for using her personal email server.
Michelle Marchante is a guest contributor at The Buzz Insider and the Assistant Opinion Director at FIUSM. She is a writer, reader and filmmaking enthusiast. Currently, she is studying to get her degree in Broadcast Journalism and is also working on her second novel. Connect with her on Twitter @TweetMichelleM
Image retrieved from Flickr.