Presumptive Republican presidential nominee and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump issued a harsh assessment of the FBI after the agency recommended against criminally charging Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for using a private email server as Secretary of State.
Following the FBI’s recommendation, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Wednesday that the Justice Department would not file any criminal charges against Clinton.
“Because of our rigged system that holds the American people to one standard and people like Hillary Clinton to another, it does not look like she will be facing the criminal charges that she deserves,” Trump said in a statement on his campaign’s website.
The Trump campaign’s response to the FBI’s announcement came after FBI director James Comey revealed that although the agency did not recommend criminal charges, it admitted there was disturbing evidence that Clinton and her staff in the State Department had been “extremely careless” in handling highly sensitive government information. Trump alleged that the agency was allowing Clinton, who served as Secretary of State, 2009 to 2013, to cover up mistakes she had made while in office.
“She used the State Department for her personal gain, trading favors for cash, and tried to conceal the records,” Trump said. “She didn’t want people to know the details about her botched decisions in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Egypt that destabilized the Middle East.”
Among other findings, Comey said that Clinton used multiple devices and several different personal servers to send and receive work-related emails. The FBI also determined that of the approximately 30,000 work-related emails that she returned to the State Department in 2014, 52 email chains containing 110 emails were found to contain some type of classified information. An additional 2,000 emails contained information that is now considered classified but was not at the time the emails were sent.
Trump claimed that Clinton’s careless behavior allowed hackers from foreign intelligence agencies to steal confidential information about American foreign policy and national security secrets contained in her emails. Comey clarified that while the FBI found no evidence that this actually happened, it is “possible” that hostile actors hacked into Clinton’s personal email servers.
These findings, Trump noted, directly disproved Clinton’s earlier claims that she had never sent classified information by email. He also questioned the FBI’s ultimate conclusion that Clinton’s behavior was merely the result of extremely bad judgement and that there was insufficient proof of willful criminal intent to recommend prosecution.
“The normal punishment, in this case, would include losing authority to handle classified information, and that too disqualifies Hillary Clinton from being President,” Trump said. “Folks — the system is rigged.”
Trump also criticized Bill Clinton meeting Lynch, after they met privately at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport last Monday. Lynch oversaw the federal investigation into Clinton’s email controversy and would have made the ultimate decision whether or not Clinton would be indicted.
“Bill Clinton didn’t accidentally run into the Attorney General on the airport tarmac,” Trump said.
The FBI’s recommendation and the DOJ’s subsequent decision not to indict Clinton comes less than three weeks before the Democratic National Convention and less than two weeks before the Republican National Convention on July 18.
At a rally on July 5 in Raleigh, N.C., Trump expressed sympathy for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s opponent for the Democratic nomination. Sanders, who until Tuesday had refused to concede to Clinton in spite of falling support in the polls, said that the FBI’s recommendation against criminal charges would not affect his decision to continue campaigning up until the DNC.
“Bernie, my poor Bernie. I feel so bad for Bernie,” Trump said. “Because honestly, he was waiting for the FBI primary. And guess what? He just lost the FBI primary.”
Trump added that he believed many Sanders supporters would support the Trump campaign rather than vote for Clinton.
Trump, whose platform consistently highlights his status as a political outsider, has made criticizing Clinton for her perceived lack of trustworthiness and association with Washington’s political cronyism key elements of his campaign strategy. Clinton and Trump, currently the Democratic frontrunner and Republican presumptive nominee, respectively, will like face against each other in the general election on Nov. 8.
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