FBI to recommend no charges in Clinton email probe, director says

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FBI Director Recommends No Charges Against Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI will recommend to the U.S. Justice Department that no charges be filed over Hillary Clinton's use of private email servers while secretary of state, agency Director James Comey said on Tuesday, lifting a cloud of uncertainty over her White House campaign.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation found evidence of "extremely careless" handling of emails byClinton and that at least 110 emails contained classified information when they were sent, said Comey, announcing the result of a yearlong investigation.

But, he said, the FBI concluded "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring charges against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

"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 told reporters in Washington.

READ MORE: Donald Trump responds to the announcement, says 'system is rigged'

His recommendation will likely stand. The country's top prosecutor, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, said on Friday that she would accept the recommendations of career prosecutors and the FBI director on whether to charge Clinton for mishandling emails.

The FBI probe has dogged Clinton for the past year, contributing to her low poll ratings on honesty and trustworthiness. Republicans pointed to the controversy as evidence that she considered herself above the law.

Donald Trump, Clinton's Republican rival in the Nov. 8 election, has hammered her on the issue, saying the investigation should disqualify her from being president. On Tuesday, he said the FBI decision was unfair.

"The system is rigged," he said on Twitter. "As usual, bad judgment."

Comey's announcement came hours before Clinton's first campaign appearance with President Barack Obama, set for later Tuesday in North Carolina. It also came less than three weeks before the start of the Democratic National Convention at which Clinton is to be nominated.

The FBI has been investigating whether Clinton broke the law as result of personal email servers kept in her Chappaqua, New York, home while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. One of the questions is whether she mishandled classified information on the servers.

The Clinton campaign issued a statement saying it was "pleased" with the FBI decision.

See reaction to Director Comey's recommendation:

16 PHOTOS
Reaction to FBI director's statement on Hillary Clinton's emails
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Reaction to FBI director's statement on Hillary Clinton's emails
The system is rigged. General Petraeus got in trouble for far less. Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment.
FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem
Statement of @FBI 's Comey, recommending no charges but rebuking @HillaryClinton for carelessness, is about best result she could get.
The fix is in. No accountability. Pathetic.
Absolutely outrageous presser by Comey. DOJ/FBI is supposed to speak in court. If it won't make statements in court, it shouldn't make them.
No recommendation of criminal charges! It is over! Let Hillary and the country move on! Repeat: it is over. No criminal charges.
Now we ponder which is more irresponsible: @HillaryClinton 's identifying classified emails or @realDonaldTrump identifying racist retweets
She mishandled top secret classified material in an "extremely careless" manner...which is not "grossly negligent," apparently?
The FBI decision shows once again how the Clintons and others at the top get to live by a different set of rules from everyone else.
110 emails contained classified information & email account was possibly hacked. “Convenience” should never be put before national security.
The findings of the @FBI are a clear indictment of @HillaryClinton's judgement and fitness to be President
The blindfold had clearly been removed from the scales of justice.
@realDonaldTrump - What I got from @FBI Director Comey remarks: @HillaryClinton's recklessness makes her unfit to President! #CrookedHillary
Hillary may not be POTUS, but she'll be on the Winter Olympic team for ice skating, no one has successfully skated on more thin ice than her
Disappointed in FBI's decision to not recommend charges against Clinton. She broke the law.
Section 793 of Espionage act uses "gross negligence" vs "extremely careless" standard in treatment of classified information as found by FBI
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'GLAD MATTER RESOLVED'

"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," spokesman Brian Fallon said.

Clinton has repeatedly said she never sent or received classified information on her private servers. She underwent a voluntary 3-1/2-hour interview with the FBI on Saturday in Washington.

Comey said, however, there was "evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information."

But he said the FBI did not find that Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate the law, and that there was no "intentional misconduct" by her lawyers who sorted her emails.

He said her staff should have known Clinton's private email was an improper place for classified information, but there was no evidence that anyone had hacked Clinton's communications.

Comey said there were no previous cases that supported filing criminal charges against Clinton. Other cases had involved intentional mishandling of information, he said, and there was no evidence Clinton knew she was violating the law.

Last year, the FBI recommended that former CIA director David Petraeus be charged with a felony for his mishandling of classified information with his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

See more from Clinton's email saga:

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Hillary Clinton Email Scandal
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Hillary Clinton Email Scandal
FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2016 file photo, Democratic presidential hopeful former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in San Gabriel, Calif. The State Department released Friday another 3,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email account, missing a court-ordered goal for their production by a week. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Representative Susan Brooks, a Republican from Indiana, questions Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, not pictured, during a House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Under scrutiny for her handling of the Benghazi attacks and her use of a private e-mail server, Clinton plans to invoke the memory of slain U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens to defend her approach to diplomacy, saying they shared a common belief in the need for America to lead. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
In this photo taken Aug. 27, 2015, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Cleveland. The State Department is expected to release roughly 7,000 pages of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails later Monday, including about 150 that have been censored because they contain information that has now been deemed classified. (AP Photo/David Richard)
This portion of an email from Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email account when she was secretary of state and released by the State Department on Sept. 30, 2015, shows an email Clinton received early in the morning on Aug. 3, 2011. The newly released emails show Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Clinton's private email account while she was secretary of state. It is unclear if she clicked on any attachment and exposed her account. Clinton received the infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets, over four hours early the morning of Aug. 3, 2011. The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets, which would have allowed hackers to take control of their computers. Security researchers who analyzed the malicious software have said that infected computers would transmit information from victims to at least three server computers overseas, including one in Russia. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2015 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. The State Department review of Clinton's emails so far has found as many as 305 messages that could contain classified information and require further review by federal agencies, the department said Monday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2015 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens as she meets with voters during a campaign stop at River Valley Community College in Claremont, N.H. Clinton has relented to months of demands that she relinquish the personal email server she used while secretary of state, directing the device be given to the Justice Department. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks before the National Urban League, Friday, July 31, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
FILE - In this July 7, 2015, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a campaign stop at the Iowa City Public Library in Iowa City, Iowa. A special House committee on the 2012 Benghazi attacks has devolved from an investigation into the deaths of four Americans in Libya into a political fight over Clinton’s emails and private computer servers, in a battle that is likely to stretch into the 2016 presidential election year. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks, Friday, July 24, 2015, at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York. Federal investigators have alerted the Justice Department to a "potential compromise of classified information" arising from the private email server used by Clinton in her home, a department official said Friday. Clinton commented briefly on the issue saying, "We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right, and I will do my part but I'm also going to stay focused on the issues." (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at an event at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York on July 24, 2015. The Justice Department said it had received a request to probe whether Hillary Clinton mishandled sensitive government information by using her private email for State Department business. 'The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information,' a department official said in a brief statement that confirmed in part a story that first appeared in The New York Times. AFP PHOTO/ KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this April 29, 2015, file photo, Huma Abedin, attends the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum in New York. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon has given the State Department a few months to provide The Associated Press with thousands of documents it sought in a federal lawsuit. The Aug. 7, order means the documents, including schedules and calendars from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be released months ahead of the spring presidential primary elections. Leon ordered the department to produce within 30 days records related to Abedin, a former top Clinton aide, during her time as secretary of state. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton answers questions from reporters March 10, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. Clinton admitted Tuesday that she made a mistake in choosing for convenience not to use an official email account when she was secretary of state. But, in remarks to reporters after attending a United Nations event, she insisted that her email set-up had been properly secure and that she had turned over all professional communications to the State Department. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Huma Abedin (R), aide to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, looks on during a news conference following Clinton's keynote speech at a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and other members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speak to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Peter Roskam (R-IL), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speak to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton answers questions from reporters March 10, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. Clinton admitted Tuesday that she made a mistake in choosing for convenience not to use an official email account when she was secretary of state. But, in remarks to reporters after attending a United Nations event, she insisted that her email set-up had been properly secure and that she had turned over all professional communications to the State Department. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speaks to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2013 file photo, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Congressional aides say the special House committee investigating the 2012 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, will issue subpoenas for Clinton's personal emails. The aides say that possible as early as Wednesday, the committee will seek the additional material from the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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In that case, however, the FBI had evidence that Petraeus knew the information was highly classified. Petraeus eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information.

Republican lawmakers have called for an independent investigation of Clinton, saying they do not trust the Justice Department to handle the inquiry with impartiality.

Republican criticism of the process heated up after Clinton's husband, former President BillClinton, met privately with Attorney General Lynch in Phoenix last week. Lynch, who was appointed by Obama, later said she regretted the meeting and said she and Bill Clinton did not discuss the investigation.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest ranking elected Republican, said Comey's announcement "defies explanation."

"Based upon the director's own statement, it appears damage is being done to the rule of law. Declining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent," Ryan said.

"The American people will reject this troubling pattern of dishonesty and poor judgment," he said.

WATCH: What does Comey's recommendation mean?

What does Comey's recommendation mean?

(Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Frances Kerry)

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