Hillary Clinton has refuted FBI’s charge that she was “extremely careless” with classified information as secretary of state and tried to put the blame on other officials as she offered her first public comments since a probe into her use of private email server was closed this week.
The presumptive Democratic nominee in interviews to several US networks tried to move past the controversy that was hung over her presidential bid, saying her use of a private email account as secretary of state during President Barack Obama’s first term was a “mistake.”
She strongly disputed the assertion by FBI director James Comey that she and her aides were “extremely careless” with classified materials, and instead appeared to be putting the responsibility to her State Department staff.
“There are about 300 people in the government, mostly in the State Department, but in other high positions in the government with whom I emailed over the course of four years - they, I believe, did not believe they were sending any material that was classified,” Clinton told CNN.
“They were pursuing their responsibilities. I do not think they were careless. And as I have said many times, I certainly did not believe that I received or sent any material that was classified,” Clinton said in the interview.
Comey on Tuesday had recommended that no charges be brought over Clinton’s email use from 2009 to 2013. The next day the Justice Department accepted the recommendation, bringing the probe to an end.
However, Comey said that the FBI had found that Clinton was “extremely careless” in sending classified information via her personal email account, and that 110 emails had contained classified information.
But Clinton yesterday brushed aside the rebuke from Comey in several other interviews.
“With respect to the handling of classified material, I take it very seriously, and the 300 or so people with whom I e-mailed on the course of my time in the State Department do as well,” she told PBS news.
“The material that they sent to me, they didn’t believe was classified. The very, very few examples that Director Comey pointed to have also been clarified, as he accounted yesterday. The State Department has said two of the three that he had pointed to were human error. They were not to be classified,” she said.
“So, I’m very proud of the work that we did over four years. And I’m very proud of our diplomats and our other professionals, who have to act in real time. They are responding to heads of state, to press inquiries. And they are doing the best they can. I do not believe they were careless,” Clinton said.
In another interview to MSNBC, Clinton said there was no evidence of hacking of the server which hosted her emails.
“There is no evidence. There is no evidence. And he (Comey) did not contradict that. I think he was speculating. But if you go by the evidence, there is no evidence that the system was breached or hacked successfully,” she said.
Clinton has been under fire from Republicans this week after Comey announced that she mismanaged classified material.