Just one day after US Attorney General Loretta Lynch closed an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices without bringing criminal charges, the State Department says it is reopening a separate inquiry, accorded to The Associated Press. The internal investigation is only now restarting because the Justice Department has closed its federal case, says Spokesman John Kirby. The goal is to determine whether Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, and her aides violated State Department email policy by maintaining a series of private email servers containing classified information.
Although the inquiry will not result in criminal charges for Clinton, it does reignite a debate that, just yesterday, was thought to have been laid to rest. The State Department originally suspended the internal probe back in April, so as to let the FBI’s investigation conclude without any third-party influence. There is no deadline set for the State Department’s inquiry, according to Kirby.
Administrative sanctions could result in a loss of security clearances
Clinton left her role as Secretary of State in 2013, as did many of her aides. Yet the investigation could result in administrative sanctions, which include a potential loss of security clearances for those involved. That may present issues for Clinton in the event she becomes president and must name members to a national security unit in her administration. Among the other members of Clinton’s team most likely to be examined include Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin, according to the AP.
In concluding the FBI’s investigation, Director James Comey said Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless,” but there was no evidence suggesting they acted with criminal intent. That distinction is how the FBI justified recommending Lynch not bring charges. However, in follow-up testimony delivered today at the House Oversight Committee, Comey did say Clinton could still face consequences in line with the State Department’s sanctions.
“I didn’t say there’s no consequences.”
“I didn’t say there’s no consequence for someone who violates the rules,” he said. “Just because someone’s not prosecuted for mishandling classified information that doesn’t mean if you work in the FBI there aren’t consequences for it.” Comey laid out some of those consequences himself, saying a staff member of his own might face everything “from termination to reprimand and in between, suspensions, loss of clearance” for similar mishandling of classified info. However, he reiterated how the law has almost never been used to prosecute those who hadn’t intentionally broken the law, like with cases of espionage or whistleblowing.
Update July 7th, 7:47PM ET: Added information from FBI Director James Comey’s testimony at the House Oversight Committee today.