FBI Director James Comey will appear before Congress on Thursday to answer questions regarding his recommendation that the Justice Department not indict former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her handling of classified government material on a private server.
The decision came following criticism by Republican lawmakers, who said Comey’s acknowledgement that evidence appeared to indicate that Clinton had violated federal statues seemed to contradict his recommendation.
“The FBI’s recommendation is surprising and confusing,” said Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz. Chafetz chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the committee Comey will address in tomorrow’s appearance.
In the Senate, Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, also questioned Comey’s decision, asking the FBI Director to clarify statements made during Tuesday’s 13-minute press conference.
“If the evidence that the FBI collected about Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email account and server did not constitute gross negligence, what set of facts would cause the FBI to recommend criminal charges under the gross negligence standard?”
On Tuesday, Comey acknowledged that while “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. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before deciding whether to bring charges.”
The FBI Director said Clinton and her team “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” but claimed that there was no “clear evidence that Secretary Clinton” or staff members had “intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information”.
Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon expressed satisfaction with the decision, saying the campaign was “pleased that the career officials handling this case have determined that no further action by the Department is appropriate.”
“As the secretary has long said, it was a mistake to use her personal email and she would not do it again. We are glad that this matter is now resolved.”
Clinton’s likely Republican opponent in this November’s election, Donald Trump, railed against Comey’s decision, saying the former Secretary of State was clearly “guilty”.
“The rigged system may have helped Hillary Clinton escape criminal charges”, Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Crooked Hillary Clinton lied to the FBI and to the people of our country. She is soooo guilty. But watch, her time will come!”
Conservative critics of Clinton and supporters of her Democratic primary rival Bernie Sanders lambasted the FBI’s decision, with many progressive backers of the Vermont Senator promoting the hashtag #NeverHillary, while the conservative National Review blared “FBI Rewrites Federal Law to Let Hillary Off the Hook”.