Hillary Clinton repeated on Friday that she did not realize she was transmitting highly classified government secrets through her private email server while U.S. secretary of state in her first remarks since a federal investigation found this happened at least 110 times.
Clinton, the presumptive Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, shifted the blame onto her former colleagues at the State Department, saying in television interviews she followed their lead on whether or not information was classified.
“They, I believe, did not believe they were sending any material that was classified, they were pursuing their responsibilities,” she said in an interview with MSNBC.
She did not address the findings by the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed this week that she herself sent information on topics classified as ‘top secret’, the highest level of classification, through the unauthorized private server she kept in her home.
The U.S. Department of Justice accepted the FBI’s recommendation on Tuesday to not file criminal charges against Clinton or her staff for her use of an unauthorized, unsecure private server for her work as U.S. secretary of state.
It is a crime to mishandle classified information, and while FBI director James Comey said on Tuesday there was evidence Clinton or her aides may have broken these laws, there was not enough evidence of criminal intent for a prosecution.
While clearing Clinton of criminal wrongdoing, Comey said in a scathing statement that she and her staff were “extremely careless” in their handling of government secrets. He said her server was so poorly secured the FBI could not rule out the possibility its contents had not been hacked by the country’s enemies.
Asked if she agreed that she was “extremely careless”, Clinton declined to respond directly, repeatedly saying Comey had “clarified” his remarks in interviews with MSNBC and CNN. It was unclear what clarification Clinton was referring to.
In lengthier remarks before lawmakers on Thursday, Comey repeated his belief that Clinton and her staff had been extremely careless, and added that he would also describe her conduct as “real sloppiness” and cast doubt on her ability to understand the classified information system.
“I don’t think that our investigation established she was actually particularly sophisticated with respect to classified information and the levels and treatment,” Comey said while under oath to lawmakers.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Bernard Orr)