In Sunday Letter, FBI Director Comey Tells Congress: 'We Have Not Changed Our Conclusions' on Clinton Investigation

By CNSNews.com Staff | November 6, 2016 | 4:57pm EST
FBI Director James Comey (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) - FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to several congressional committees on Sunday telling them that the FBI had reviewed all of the emails sent to or from Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state that Comey said were "from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation" and that "we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton."

Back on July 5, Comey said: "Although there is evidence of potential violations of statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgement is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."

In that same July statement, Comey affirmed that the FBI had discovered multiple e-mail chains on what he called Clinton's "personal e-mail system" that were classified at the time they were sent or received.

"From the group of 30,000-emails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received," Comey said then. "Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification."

Comey went on to say in his July statement that Clinton and others were "extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information."

"Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information," Comey said in that statement, "there is evidence that they were extremely carless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

"For example," Comey said then, "seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received.

"These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about these matters and receiving e-mails for others about the same matters," Comey said. "There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later 'up-classified' e-mails.)

"None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presense is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government--or even with a commercial service like Gmail," said Comey.

Comey concluded his July statement by stating that the FBI was telling the Justice Department that "no charges are appropriate in this case."

"As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case," Comey said in July. 

"I know there will be intense public debate in the wake of this recommendation, as there was throughout this investigation," Comey said. "What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done competently, honestly, and indepedently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear."

However, in an October 28 letter to the chairmen and ranking members of several congressional committees, Comey revealed that the FBI was reopening its investigation of former Secretary of State Clinton's e-mails.

"In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to our investigation," Comey told the congressional committees. "I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation."

In that letter, Comey said he did not know how long it would take the FBI to do this.

"Although the FBI cannot yet access whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your committees about our efforts in light of my prevoius testimony," he said.

In his letter sent today to the same congressional committee chairmen and ranking members, Comey did not say whether the FBI had found classified information in additional emails. However, he did say that FBI investigators had "been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation," and that this work had brought them to the conclusion that their original conclucion was correct.

"Since my letter [of October 28]," Comey wrote in his letter of November 6, "the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she served a Secretary of State.

"Based on our review," Comey said, "we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.'

"I am very grateful to the professionals at the FBI for doing an extraordinary amount of high-quality work in a short period of time," said Comey.

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