The State Department is reopening an internal investigation of possible mishandling of classified information by Hillary Clinton and her top aides after the Department of Justice decided not to pursue charges against her.
State Department spokesman John Kirby announced the probe into Clinton’s alleged misuse of private email servers on Thursday, without giving further details.
“We will aim to be as expeditious as possible, but we will not put artificial deadlines on the process,” Kirby said. “Our goal will be to be as transparent as possible about our results, while complying with our various legal obligations”.
Kirby did not give details about the precise information officials were evaluating. When the probe was launched almost six months ago, officials said it pertained particularly to a set of emails that were upgraded to one of the highest classification levels.
One question they were investigating was whether any of the emails were classified at the time of transmission.
Separately on Thursday, Republican politicians said they would now ask the FBI to investigate whether Clinton lied to the committee.
That announcement came in a testy hearing with FBI Director James Comey, who defended the government’s decision not to prosecute Clinton over her private email setup.
But Kirby said this week that former officials can still face punishment. Options range from counselling and warnings, to the revocation of an individual’s security clearance.
“There could be repercussions,” Kirby told reporters on Wednesday, saying infractions identified would be kept on file. If someone’s security clearance is taken away, he said it would have an effect “assuming that individual still needed the clearance to work in another federal agency or something like that”.
The State Department had suspended its investigation into Clinton’s private email server, which began in January after it identified 22 of the emails as “top secret”, to avoid interfering with the FBI and Justice Department reviews.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s decision to not press charges against Clinton followed Comey’s recommendation.
Comey said in his announcement that Clinton and aides acted “extremely carelessly” in their handling of classified materials, but that the investigators did not find enough evidence to recommend criminal charges.
On Thursday, Comey defended his decision during a lengthy hearing before House politicians.
“I see evidence of great carelessness,” he said. “But I do not see evidence that is sufficient to establish that Secretary Clinton or those with whom she was corresponding both talked about classified information on email and knew when they were doing it that it was against the law.”