FBI: Clinton 'Should Have Known' Private Email Server 'No Way To Handle Classified Info', But No Charges Will Be Sought

from the not-even-the-sting-of-a-wrist-slap dept

FBI Director James Comey just held a press conference detailing the FBI's findings during its investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. The findings are irrefutably ugly.

The FBI, "painstakingly" reassembling emails scattered to the digital wind by device abandonment, multiple server upgrades, lawyers' brute-force attempts to separate personal emails from work-related emails, and a general lack of professionalism across the board, found that Clinton's private email server contained :

  • 110 classified emails in 52 chains
  • 8 top secret emails
  • 36 "secret" emails
  • 8 "confidential" emails

All were clearly designated as such at the time sent or received. Additionally, another 2,000 emails had been "up-classified" to confidential after being sent or received.

It also found several work-related emails Clinton's staff did not include with the 30,000 handed over to the State Department for release to FOIA requesters.

There was no built-in archival function in Clinton's private server setup, a basic feature considered essential by professionals. This slowed the FBI's investigation as it was forced to reconstruct emails from the digital detritus left behind by "routine purging" and device deactivation.

As noted above, Clinton's lawyers made several efforts to delete "personal" emails, but they did so by using searches and header info, rather than actually reading the emails' content. The FBI did read the content of what it could recover, finding it likely that some work-related emails vanished during these purges. It also discovered Clinton hired some smart lawyers: "lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery."

But at the end of it all, the FBI found Clinton's use of private email server to be severely stupid, rather than criminal. Comey says the FBI found no signs of "intentional misconduct" by lawyers during personal email deletions or routine purges. Likewise, there was "no clear evidence of intentional misconduct by staffers," but Clinton's emails were "clearly mishandled."

The FBI's final conclusion is damning, but only in terms of harsh words, not actual punishment. Clinton and her staff "knew or should have known" a private email server was "no way to properly handle classified email" -- especially when housed on private server with "no full-time staff" or anything approaching the level of service one would equate with email services like Gmail. Comey also noted that Clinton used her personal domain "extensively" outside of the US, needlessly exposing sensitive information in the "presence of hostile actors."

James Comey also took a little time to bash her agency, stating that the FBI found the "security culture" of the State Department to be "lacking."

But for anyone who was hoping this would result in criminal charges, the FBI has nothing in the way of good news. Comey says it's not the FBI's call to pursue prosecution, but stated that "no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case" against Clinton, despite her repeated careless handling of sensitive info via her barely-competent private email service.

Final call, according to Comey: Clinton, staffers may be subject to security or administrative sanctions, but "no [criminal] charges are appropriate" in this case.

Clinton walks. The FBI has determined there was no malice in her actions. Being stupid and dishonest is no crime, at least not as far as the FBI is willing to push it. The DOJ has the final call, but it's highly unlikely it will override the FBI's recommendation. The decision is one that people in Clinton's position are far more likely to receive. Others lower on the political ladder -- or, god forbid, just average voting Americans -- are far less likely to receive this much deference from the nation's top prosecutors.

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  1. identicon
    Jim B., 5 Jul 2016 @ 10:51am

    There doesn't need to be intent

    There doesn't need to be intent. Criminal charges have been filed against others for less. Men have gone to jail without the government showing intent.

    This is fundamental to how they pursue these types of things. You are told repeatedly after you have your clearance and when you begin working with classified material that you don't need intent to be subject to prosecution. Your incompetence is enough to get you prosecuted.

    This is Obama interfering with the election process. When someone is guilty of a crime and they are in the process of running for office using the justice system, as Obama has, is an interference with the process. Hillary is his club member (democrats club) afterall.

    She's guilty of a crime, the same type of crime that others have been found guilty of for doing less (including even Bradley Manning -- who didn't have any intention other than to let American's know what crimes the government had committed). If no criminal charges are to be filed against her then Snowden needs to be allowed to come home and Manning needs to be released. Neither of those two had an intent to harm national security nor commit treason.

    What Obama is trying to do is to keep Trump from using her as cannon fodder. Clearly Trump is going to, and had intended to, use this against her. If no criminal charges are hanging over her head then what is Trump to do? I thing Trump will use this to show incompetency. I'm sure Hillary and the DNC are busily working on talking points in order to overcome anything Trump throws at her.

    If no one else can see the process I'm baffled. Obama says emails aren't going to be released till after the election, then he has the investigative teams put Benghazi to rest, and now he has them put to rest the criminal negligence (which it is at least) case, is interference then we are a nation of lemmings. He's using his power to get things all lined up for Hillary.

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