No charges will be brought against Hillary Clinton for using a private email server while secretary of state, the Justice Department announced Wednesday, prompting Donald Trump to accuse his presidential rival of “crooked” dealings.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch made the widely expected announcement following a meeting with FBI Director James Comey as well as prosecutors and agents who led a high-profile investigation that has weighed heavily on Clinton’s Democratic White House campaign.
“I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation,” Lynch said in a statement.
The attorney general had previously pledged to respect FBI and prosecutors’ decisions about whether to bring charges after it emerged that she met briefly with Clinton’s husband, Bill, last week — prompting Republicans to cry foul over possible government interference.
Comey recommended on Tuesday that no charges be brought over Clinton’s email use, saying its investigation does not support a criminal prosecution.
“Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” he said.
But the FBI’s assessment found that Clinton was “extremely careless” in sending classified information via her personal email account.
While the former first lady can breathe a sigh of relief over avoiding criminal charges that could have ended her campaign, the damning FBI assessment could still complicate an increasingly tight race against Trump.
He and fellow Republicans immediately seized on the findings to brand Clinton a liar and charge that the system was rigged.
“She made so many false statements,” Trump said during a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Wednesday evening. “Is she going to be brought before Congress or something? Is something going to happen? It’s a disgrace.”
“She’s crooked Hillary. That’s all you have to know,” the Republican White House hopeful said.
He went on to accuse Bill Clinton of bribing Lynch during his meeting with her, alluding to reports that Clinton is considering retaining the attorney general if she wins the election in November.
“She said she’s going to reappoint the attorney general and the attorney general is waiting to make a determination as to whether or not she’s guilty and boy, was that a fast determination. Wow!” Trump said.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus called the attorney general’s a decision a “slap in the face” to many Americans.
“Those who have mishandled classified information have had their security clearances revoked, lost their jobs, faced fines, and even been sent to prison, yet Hillary Clinton is being allowed to play by a different set of rules,” he said in a statement.
Comey to testify
Of some 30,000 emails Clinton turned over to the FBI, Comey said 110 contained classified information — Clinton had said none was classified at the time they were sent — adding that her emails could have been hacked.
Another 2,000 emails were later “up-classified” to confidential.
Investigators also recovered thousands more emails that were not provided by Clinton’s attorneys. Still, they found “no evidence” that Clinton’s camp intentionally deleted messages in an effort to conceal them, Comey said.
He is set to testify before Congress Thursday about the email investigation and his recommendation not to prosecute Clinton.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said lawmakers would ask the FBI director to explain how he could censure Clinton over her private email account without finding that she broke the law.
“We’re going to have hearings,” he told Fox News on Tuesday. “There are a lot of unanswered questions here.”
He also recommended that Clinton’s access to classified information be blocked as punishment.
Seeking to move past the controversy, Clinton on Wednesday appeared in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where Trump developed casinos that went out of business.
Standing by a faded “Trump” sign in front of the empty Trump Plaza Casino, she accused the billionaire tycoon of “multiple bankruptcies, stiffing contractors and spurring hundreds of job losses.”
“Isn’t he supposed to be some sort of amazing businessman?” she said. “What in the world happened here?”