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HomeNewsPressRoomPressReleasesStatementbyFBIDirectorJamesB.ComeyontheInvestigationofSecretaryHillaryClintonsUseofaPersonalEMail...

StatementbyFBIDirectorJamesB.Comeyonthe
InvestigationofSecretaryHillaryClintonsUseofa
PersonalEMailSystem
Washington,D.C.
July05,2016

FBINationalPressOffice
(202)3243691

Remarkspreparedfordeliveryatpressbriefing.
Goodmorning.ImheretogiveyouanupdateontheFBIsinvestigationofSecretaryClintonsuseofa
personalemailsystemduringhertimeasSecretaryofState.
Afteratremendousamountofworkoverthelastyear,theFBIiscompletingitsinvestigationand
referringthecasetotheDepartmentofJusticeforaprosecutivedecision.WhatIwouldliketodotoday
istellyouthreethings:whatwedidwhatwefoundandwhatwearerecommendingtothe
DepartmentofJustice.
Thiswillbeanunusualstatementinatleastacoupleways.First,Iamgoingtoincludemoredetail
aboutourprocessthanIordinarilywould,becauseIthinktheAmericanpeopledeservethosedetailsin
acaseofintensepublicinterest.Second,Ihavenotcoordinatedorreviewedthisstatementinanyway
withtheDepartmentofJusticeoranyotherpartofthegovernment.TheydonotknowwhatIamabout
tosay.

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TheinvestigationbeganasareferralfromtheIntelligenceCommunityInspectorGeneralinconnection
withSecretaryClintonsuseofapersonalemailserverduringhertimeasSecretaryofState.The
referralfocusedonwhetherclassifiedinformationwastransmittedonthatpersonalsystem.
Ourinvestigationlookedatwhetherthereisevidenceclassifiedinformationwasimproperlystoredor
transmittedonthatpersonalsystem,inviolationofafederalstatutemakingitafelonytomishandle
classifiedinformationeitherintentionallyorinagrosslynegligentway,orasecondstatutemakingita
misdemeanortoknowinglyremoveclassifiedinformationfromappropriatesystemsorstorage
facilities.
Consistentwithourcounterintelligenceresponsibilities,wehavealsoinvestigatedtodetermine
whetherthereisevidenceofcomputerintrusioninconnectionwiththepersonalemailserverbyany
foreignpower,orotherhostileactors.
Ihavesofarusedthesingularterm,emailserver,indescribingthereferralthatbeganour
investigation.Itturnsouttohavebeenmorecomplicatedthanthat.SecretaryClintonusedseveral
differentserversandadministratorsofthoseserversduringherfouryearsattheStateDepartment,and
usednumerousmobiledevicestoviewandsendemailonthatpersonaldomain.Asnewserversand
equipmentwereemployed,olderserversweretakenoutofservice,stored,anddecommissionedin
variousways.Piecingallofthatbacktogethertogainasfullanunderstandingaspossibleoftheways
inwhichpersonalemailwasusedforgovernmentworkhasbeenapainstakingundertaking,
requiringthousandsofhoursofeffort.
Forexample,whenoneofSecretaryClintonsoriginalpersonalserverswasdecommissionedin2013,
theemailsoftwarewasremoved.Doingthatdidntremovetheemailcontent,butitwaslikeremoving
theframefromahugefinishedjigsawpuzzleanddumpingthepiecesonthefloor.Theeffectwasthat
millionsofemailfragmentsendupunsortedintheserversunusedorslackspace.Wesearched
throughallofittoseewhatwasthere,andwhatpartsofthepuzzlecouldbeputbacktogether.
FBIinvestigatorshavealsoreadalloftheapproximately30,000emailsprovidedbySecretaryClinton
totheStateDepartmentinDecember2014.Whereanemailwasassessedaspossiblycontaining
classifiedinformation,theFBIreferredtheemailtoanyU.S.governmentagencythatwasalikely
ownerofinformationintheemail,sothatagencycouldmakeadeterminationastowhetherthee
mailcontainedclassifiedinformationatthetimeitwassentorreceived,orwhethertherewasreasonto
classifytheemailnow,evenifitscontentwasnotclassifiedatthetimeitwassent(thatistheprocess
sometimesreferredtoasupclassifying).
Fromthegroupof30,000emailsreturnedtotheStateDepartment,110emailsin52emailchains
havebeendeterminedbytheowningagencytocontainclassifiedinformationatthetimetheywere

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havebeendeterminedbytheowningagencytocontainclassifiedinformationatthetimetheywere
sentorreceived.EightofthosechainscontainedinformationthatwasTopSecretatthetimetheywere
sent36chainscontainedSecretinformationatthetimeandeightcontainedConfidentialinformation,
whichisthelowestlevelofclassification.Separatefromthose,about2,000additionalemailswere
upclassifiedtomakethemConfidentialtheinformationinthosehadnotbeenclassifiedatthetime
theemailsweresent.
TheFBIalsodiscoveredseveralthousandworkrelatedemailsthatwerenotinthegroupof30,000
thatwerereturnedbySecretaryClintontoStatein2014.Wefoundthoseadditionalemailsinavariety
ofways.Somehadbeendeletedovertheyearsandwefoundtracesofthemondevicesthatsupported
orwereconnectedtotheprivateemaildomain.Otherswefoundbyreviewingthearchived
governmentemailaccountsofpeoplewhohadbeengovernmentemployeesatthesametimeas
SecretaryClinton,includinghighrankingofficialsatotheragencies,peoplewithwhomaSecretaryof
Statemightnaturallycorrespond.
Thishelpedusrecoverworkrelatedemailsthatwerenotamongthe30,000producedtoState.Still
otherswerecoveredfromthelaboriousreviewofthemillionsofemailfragmentsdumpedintothe
slackspaceoftheserverdecommissionedin2013.
WithrespecttothethousandsofemailswefoundthatwerenotamongthoseproducedtoState,
agencieshaveconcludedthatthreeofthosewereclassifiedatthetimetheyweresentorreceived,one
attheSecretlevelandtwoattheConfidentiallevel.TherewerenoadditionalTopSecretemailsfound.
Finally,noneofthosewefoundhavesincebeenupclassified.
Ishouldaddherethatwefoundnoevidencethatanyoftheadditionalworkrelatedemailswere
intentionallydeletedinanefforttoconcealthem.Ourassessmentisthat,likemanyemailusers,
SecretaryClintonperiodicallydeletedemailsoremailswerepurgedfromthesystemwhendevices
werechanged.Becauseshewasnotusingagovernmentaccountorevenacommercialaccountlike
Gmailtherewasnoarchivingatallofheremails,soitisnotsurprisingthatwediscoveredemails
thatwerenotonSecretaryClintonssystemin2014,whensheproducedthe30,000emailstothe
StateDepartment.
Itcouldalsobethatsomeoftheadditionalworkrelatedemailswerecoveredwereamongthose
deletedaspersonalbySecretaryClintonslawyerswhentheyreviewedandsortedheremailsfor
productionin2014.
ThelawyersdoingthesortingforSecretaryClintonin2014didnotindividuallyreadthecontentofall
ofheremails,aswedidforthoseavailabletousinstead,theyreliedonheaderinformationandused
searchtermstotrytofindallworkrelatedemailsamongthereportedlymorethan60,000totale
mailsremainingonSecretaryClintonspersonalsystemin2014.Itishighlylikelytheirsearchterms
missedsomeworkrelatedemails,andthatwelaterfoundthem,forexample,inthemailboxesof
otherofficialsorintheslackspaceofaserver.
ItisalsolikelythatthereareotherworkrelatedemailsthattheydidnotproducetoStateandthatwe
didnotfindelsewhere,andthatarenowgonebecausetheydeletedallemailstheydidnotreturnto
State,andthelawyerscleanedtheirdevicesinsuchawayastoprecludecompleteforensicrecovery.
Wehaveconductedinterviewsanddonetechnicalexaminationtoattempttounderstandhowthat
sortingwasdonebyherattorneys.Althoughwedonothavecompletevisibilitybecausewearenotable
tofullyreconstructtheelectronicrecordofthatsorting,webelieveourinvestigationhasbeensufficient
togiveusreasonableconfidencetherewasnointentionalmisconductinconnectionwiththatsorting
effort.
And,ofcourse,inadditiontoourtechnicalwork,weinterviewedmanypeople,fromthoseinvolvedin
settingupandmaintainingthevariousiterationsofSecretaryClintonspersonalserver,tostaff
memberswithwhomshecorrespondedonemail,tothoseinvolvedintheemailproductiontoState,
andfinally,SecretaryClintonherself.
Last,wehavedoneextensiveworktounderstandwhatindicationstheremightbeofcompromiseby
hostileactorsinconnectionwiththepersonalemailoperation.
Thatswhatwehavedone.Nowletmetellyouwhatwefound:
AlthoughwedidnotfindclearevidencethatSecretaryClintonorhercolleaguesintendedtoviolate
lawsgoverningthehandlingofclassifiedinformation,thereisevidencethattheywereextremely
carelessintheirhandlingofverysensitive,highlyclassifiedinformation.
Forexample,sevenemailchainsconcernmattersthatwereclassifiedattheTopSecret/SpecialAccess
Programlevelwhentheyweresentandreceived.ThesechainsinvolvedSecretaryClintonbothsending
emailsaboutthosemattersandreceivingemailsfromothersaboutthesamematters.Thereis
evidencetosupportaconclusionthatanyreasonablepersoninSecretaryClintonsposition,orinthe
positionofthosegovernmentemployeeswithwhomshewascorrespondingaboutthesematters,
shouldhaveknownthatanunclassifiedsystemwasnoplaceforthatconversation.Inadditiontothis
highlysensitiveinformation,wealsofoundinformationthatwasproperlyclassifiedasSecretbythe
U.S.IntelligenceCommunityatthetimeitwasdiscussedonemail(thatis,excludingthelaterup
classifiedemails).
Noneoftheseemailsshouldhavebeenonanykindofunclassifiedsystem,buttheirpresenceis
especiallyconcerningbecausealloftheseemailswerehousedonunclassifiedpersonalserversnot
evensupportedbyfulltimesecuritystaff,likethosefoundatDepartmentsandAgenciesoftheU.S.
GovernmentorevenwithacommercialservicelikeGmail.
Separately,itisimportanttosaysomethingaboutthemarkingofclassifiedinformation.Onlyavery
smallnumberoftheemailscontainingclassifiedinformationboremarkingsindicatingthepresenceof
classifiedinformation.Butevenifinformationisnotmarkedclassifiedinanemail,participantswho
knoworshouldknowthatthesubjectmatterisclassifiedarestillobligatedtoprotectit.

knoworshouldknowthatthesubjectmatterisclassifiedarestillobligatedtoprotectit.
Whilenotthefocusofourinvestigation,wealsodevelopedevidencethatthesecuritycultureofthe
StateDepartmentingeneral,andwithrespecttouseofunclassifiedemailsystemsinparticular,was
generallylackinginthekindofcareforclassifiedinformationfoundelsewhereinthegovernment.
Withrespecttopotentialcomputerintrusionbyhostileactors,wedidnotfinddirectevidencethat
SecretaryClintonspersonalemaildomain,initsvariousconfigurationssince2009,wassuccessfully
hacked.But,giventhenatureofthesystemandoftheactorspotentiallyinvolved,weassessthatwe
wouldbeunlikelytoseesuchdirectevidence.Wedoassessthathostileactorsgainedaccesstothe
privatecommercialemailaccountsofpeoplewithwhomSecretaryClintonwasinregularcontactfrom
herpersonalaccount.WealsoassessthatSecretaryClintonsuseofapersonalemaildomainwasboth
knownbyalargenumberofpeopleandreadilyapparent.Shealsousedherpersonalemailextensively
whileoutsidetheUnitedStates,includingsendingandreceivingworkrelatedemailsintheterritoryof
sophisticatedadversaries.Giventhatcombinationoffactors,weassessitispossiblethathostileactors
gainedaccesstoSecretaryClintonspersonalemailaccount.
Sothatswhatwefound.Finally,withrespecttoourrecommendationtotheDepartmentofJustice:
Inoursystem,theprosecutorsmakethedecisionsaboutwhetherchargesareappropriatebasedon
evidencetheFBIhashelpedcollect.Althoughwedontnormallymakepublicourrecommendationsto
theprosecutors,wefrequentlymakerecommendationsandengageinproductiveconversationswith
prosecutorsaboutwhatresolutionmaybeappropriate,giventheevidence.Inthiscase,giventhe
importanceofthematter,Ithinkunusualtransparencyisinorder.
Althoughthereisevidenceofpotentialviolationsofthestatutesregardingthehandlingofclassified
information,ourjudgmentisthatnoreasonableprosecutorwouldbringsuchacase.Prosecutors
necessarilyweighanumberoffactorsbeforebringingcharges.Thereareobviousconsiderations,like
thestrengthoftheevidence,especiallyregardingintent.Responsibledecisionsalsoconsiderthe
contextofapersonsactions,andhowsimilarsituationshavebeenhandledinthepast.
Inlookingbackatourinvestigationsintomishandlingorremovalofclassifiedinformation,wecannot
findacasethatwouldsupportbringingcriminalchargesonthesefacts.Allthecasesprosecuted
involvedsomecombinationof:clearlyintentionalandwillfulmishandlingofclassifiedinformationor
vastquantitiesofmaterialsexposedinsuchawayastosupportaninferenceofintentionalmisconduct
orindicationsofdisloyaltytotheUnitedStatesoreffortstoobstructjustice.Wedonotseethose
thingshere.
Tobeclear,thisisnottosuggestthatinsimilarcircumstances,apersonwhoengagedinthisactivity
wouldfacenoconsequences.Tothecontrary,thoseindividualsareoftensubjecttosecurityor
administrativesanctions.Butthatisnotwhatwearedecidingnow.
Asaresult,althoughtheDepartmentofJusticemakesfinaldecisionsonmatterslikethis,weare
expressingtoJusticeourviewthatnochargesareappropriateinthiscase.
Iknowtherewillbeintensepublicdebateinthewakeofthisrecommendation,astherewasthroughout
thisinvestigation.WhatIcanassuretheAmericanpeopleisthatthisinvestigationwasdone
competently,honestly,andindependently.Nooutsideinfluenceofanykindwasbroughttobear.
Iknowthereweremanyopinionsexpressedbypeoplewhowerenotpartoftheinvestigation
includingpeopleingovernmentbutnoneofthatmatteredtous.Opinionsareirrelevant,andthey
werealluninformedbyinsightintoourinvestigation,becausewedidtheinvestigationtherightway.
Onlyfactsmatter,andtheFBIfoundthemhereinanentirelyapoliticalandprofessionalway.Icouldnt
beproudertobepartofthisorganization.

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