NY TIMES – The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said Tuesday that the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information while she was secretary of state, lifting an enormous legal cloud from her presidential campaign less than two hours before she boarded Air Force One for her first joint campaign appearance with President Obama.
But in an extraordinary day of political drama in Washington, Mr. Comey rebuked Mrs. Clinton as being “extremely careless” in using a personal email address for sensitive communications. He raised questions about her judgment that will reverberate through her campaign and said that a person still employed by the government — Mrs. Clinton left the State Department in 2013 — could face administrative punishment for such conduct.
To warrant a criminal charge, Mr. Comey said, there had to be evidence that Mrs. Clinton intentionally transmitted or willfully mishandled classified information. The F.B.I. found neither, and as a result, he said, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
The Justice Department is highly likely to accept the F.B.I.’s instruction, which a law enforcement official said also cleared Mrs. Clinton’s top aides involved in the emails: Jake Sullivan, Huma Abedin and Cheryl D. Mills. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said last week that she would accept the recommendation of the F.B.I. and career prosecutors in the case after a storm of Republican criticism about an impromptu meeting between Ms. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton at an airport in Phoenix.
Mr. Comey’s 15-minute announcement, delivered with no advance warning only three days after investigators interviewed Mrs. Clinton in the case, riveted official Washington on an otherwise sleepy summer morning. In offices across the capital, all eyes turned to television screens to hear the outcome of a yearlong investigation that could have transformed the 2016 presidential election and changed history.