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FBI lifts legal threat over Clinton email server

In investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state, the FBI found no wanton wrongdoing to make criminal charges stick. FBI director James Comey made that announcement today, chastising the Democratic presidential candidate and former top diplomat. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    For Hillary Clinton today, a recommendation and a rebuke from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It came after a year-long investigation into her use of a private e-mail server when she was the nation's top diplomat.

  • JAMES COMEY, Director, FBI:

    No charges are appropriate in this case.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    With those seven words, FBI Director James Comey all but lifted the legal threat to the Democrats' presidential nominee-to-be. He said, in essence, investigators found no wanton wrongdoing to make criminal charges stick.

  • JAMES COMEY:

    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.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But Comey also spoke in blistering terms about Clinton's use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state.

  • JAMES COMEY:

    Although we didn't 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.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Clinton has acknowledged it was a mistake to use a private e-mail system, but she's asserted that classified material was never handled improperly.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Former Secretary of State: I didn't e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail. There is no classified material.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Today, however, the FBI found that 110 e-mails contained information that was classified when it was sent or received. And the FBI also found it is — quote — "possible" that hostile actors got access to the secretary's account.

  • JAMES COMEY:

    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.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The announcement came after the FBI interviewed Clinton for three-and-a-half-hours on Saturday. The candidate was speaking in Washington as Comey made his report. She didn't address it there, or later, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Instead, her campaign issued a statement, saying: "We are pleased that the career officials handling this case have determined that no further action is appropriate. We are glad that this matter is now resolved."

    Republican reaction to Comey's announcement was swift and strongly negative. The GOP's presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump took to Twitter, saying: "No charges. Wow. #riggedsystem."

    And House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement: "This announcement defies explanation. No one should be above the law."

    The White House said it would have no official response to the FBI findings.

    They now go to the Justice Department, where Attorney General Loretta Lynch said last week she will follow prosecutors' recommendations. That followed a furor over her impromptu meeting with former President Bill Clinton. The FBI also found the State Department was generally lax about handling classified material.

    A department spokesman responded that, "We take it very, very seriously."

    We will take a closer look at the FBI findings after this news summary.

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