FBI Director James Comey said there was strong evidence that Hillary Clinton and her State Department colleagues were "extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information" during his statement to the press on Tuesday.
Comey announced the FBI will not recommend charges against Clinton for mishandling classified information and found no clear evidence that she or her aides willfully intended to violate the law with her use of a private email server, but he was sharp in his assessment of their conduct.
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"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. "For example, seven email chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received.
"These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending emails about those matters and receiving emails from others about the same matters," Comey added. "There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation."
Comey, seeming to respond to Clinton’s continued insistence that she never sent any emails "marked" classified at the time they were sent or received, added that participants should know about classified information not bearing those markings and take care to protect it.
He said there was no direct evidence that the server was hacked successfully, but he assessed it would be difficult to find such evidence in the first place. Thus, he concluded that, given the combination of Clinton’s use of email abroad and the many people who knew she used a private system, it was possible that "hostile actors" gained access to her account.
"We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent," Comey said. "She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account."