The State Department said late Thursday that it will reopen an internal review into any mishandling of classified information in emails between former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and her top aides now that the Justice Department has decided she will not be prosecuted.
One possible outcome of such internal reviews is that employees, even if they no longer work there, could face a range of disciplinary actions, from having notes placed in their employment files to losing their security clearances. If their security clearances are lifted, it could preclude their working for other government agencies.
The review is a resumption of a review the State Department announced in January, as it was still engaged in sorting through batches of 30,000 emails that had gone through a private server for Clinton’s use, even though the emails were related to government business. It announced the review at the same time it said 22 emails had been retroactively upgraded to top secret.
But the State Department paused its review in April, as the FBI conducted its own investigation.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the decision to reopen the review was made after Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said no charges would be brought against Clinton.
FBI Director James B. Comey said at a congressional hearing Thursday that his investigators found “evidence of mishandling” of classified information, though they found that neither Clinton nor her aides intended to do wrong and thus could not be charged with a crime. Of Clinton in particular, he said: “I think she was extremely careless. I think she was negligent.”
Comey declined to say what penalty Clinton might face if a criminal charge was not appropriate, asserting that his investigation was focused on whether the misconductconstituted a violation of the law. But he said that if a bureau employee mishandled classified information, that person would face a review and could be reprimanded, suspended or even fired.
“They would face consequences for this,” he said.
It is not clear how long the State Department review will take and whether the results will be made public.
“I cannot provide specific information about the department’s review, including what information we are evaluating,” Kirby said. “We will aim to be as expeditious as possible, but we will not put artificial deadlines on the process. Our goal will be to be as transparent as possible about our results, while complying with our various legal obligations. I’m not able to make commitments today one way or the other about what we will be able to disclose.”