The FBI will not recommend charges be brought against Hillary Clinton or any of her aides in connection with the former secretary of state’s use of personal email to conduct government business, FBI Director James Comey said at a news conference Tuesday morning.
He did, however, fault Clinton and her State Department aides for being "extremely careless in their handling of classified information."
Comey insisted that the bureau’s investigation was "done honestly, competently, and independently."
The announcement came the same day that President Obama will campaign with Clinton in Charlotte, North Carolina, as she prepares to face presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in the general election. The pair has not campaigned alongside one another since 2008, after Obama, then a senator from Illinois, defeated Clinton in the primaries to become the Democratic Party's nominee.
Clinton’s decision to use a private email account to conduct State Department business during her tenure in the Obama administration has been a subject of scrutiny since the New York Times first broke the news of her unusual setup in March 2015. The FBI began investigating Clinton’s server last year after the intelligence community inspector general determined that messages held on the system contain top-secret classified material, Comey said.
FBI investigators have been looking into whether classified information was criminally mishandled on Clinton’s server.
The FBI interviewed a number of Clinton aides and, on Saturday, Clinton herself in connection with the investigation. The interview took place for three and a half hours at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the campaign described it as voluntary.
"Secretary Clinton gave a voluntary interview this morning about her email arrangements while she was Secretary," spokesman Nick Merrill stated. "She is pleased to have had the opportunity to assist the Department of Justice in bringing this review to a conclusion. Out of respect for the investigative process, she will not comment further on her interview."
The controversy has dogged Clinton’s presidential campaign, and the American public has increasingly seen Clinton as less trustworthy and less favorable.
The Clinton campaign has long sought to characterize the controversy as a partisan effort to undermine her presidential bid and downplay the investigation as a "security inquiry." Comey dismissed that characterization in May, telling reporters that it amounted to an investigation.
Previous reports indicated that thousands of messages on Clinton’s server had been found to hold classified information, though none of the messages were marked classified at the time they were sent or received. The State Department vetted and released more than 30,000 emails from Clinton’s personal system over the course of a year, but was forced to withhold 22 top-secret messages from public release.
Comey’s announcement Tuesday comes less than a month before Clinton is expected to officially become the Democratic Party’s nominee at the convention in Philadelphia.
This post will be updated as further information becomes available.