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Attorney General Lynch Says Hillary Clinton Won't Be Charged Over Email Server

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said investigators were unanimous in recommending that the year-long case be closed.
Image: Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally Wednesday in Atlantic City, N.J.BRIAN SNYDER / Reuters

No charges will be brought against Hillary Clinton after the FBI found there's no evidence she committed a crime by using a personal email server while she was secretary of state, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Wednesday.

FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was "extremely careless" in handling classified information but that she and her colleagues didn't intend to violate the law.

Lynch said in a brief statement late Wednesday afternoon that she had met with Comey and members of the investigative team, who she said were unanimous in recommending that the year-long case be closed.

Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally Wednesday in Atlantic City, N.J.BRIAN SNYDER / Reuters

The FBI found that Clinton used several servers and numerous mobile devices, generating about 30,000 emails while at the State Department during President Barack Obama's first term — all of which Comey said investigators reviewed individually.

"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," Comey said Tuesday.

Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said Wednesday on Twitter: "With the AG accepting Director Comey's recommendation, this case is resolved, no matter Republicans' attempts to continue playing politics"

But House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was quick to disagree, saying Lynch's decision "defies explanation."

"Declining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent," Ryan said in a statement.

In an interview Wednesday night on Fox News, Ryan noted that major-party presidential nominees are regularly given intelligence briefings and said the director of national intelligence "should block her access to classified information given how recklessly she handled this during the presidential campaign."

FBI agents questioned Clinton for more than three hours Saturday. Afterward, she told NBC News that she was "pleased to have the opportunity to assist the [Justice] Department in bringing its review to a conclusion."

Clinton's use of a private server — not one set up by government specialists to federal information security standards — has bedeviled her presidential campaign for many months. Critics have questioned the impartiality of the Justice Department investigation, noting that Lynch recently met with Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, went so far as to accuse Hillary Clinton of having "bribed" Lynch with the possibility that she might stay on as attorney general in a Clinton administration.

That allegation was based on a long profile of Clinton in The New York Times, which attributed the claim to anonymous Democratic aides in a passing mention.

Comey — a registered Republican — is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Oversight Committee to explain his decision. He said Tuesday that politics played no role in the investigation, but Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said he was eager to hear from Comey.

"The FBI's findings made it painfully obvious that Secretary Clinton put our national security and classified information at risk, and even that her email was probably hacked by foreign operatives," Scott said in a statement Wednesday night.

"We have seen other examples of people who have, maliciously or not, put classified information at risk, and they did not receive the same treatment," he said. "This shows if your last name is Clinton, you are clearly playing by a different set of rules. This is not what America stands for, period."