Hillary Clinton has escaped criminal charges over the use of her private email server while secretary of state. This clears a major legal threat to her presidential bid, as Barack Obama joins the campaign trail.
FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that although the investigation revealed "extremely careless" behavior on the part of Clinton and her aides in the handling of sensitive information, the agency ultimately concluded that "no charges are appropriate."
Comey told a news conference that the FBI found 110 emails containing classified information were sent or received on Clinton's server. He added that it was possible foreign governments spied on the contents of some messages, but that investigators had found no "direct evidence" the system was breached.
"Any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position or those with whom she was corresponding should have known the system was no place for those conversations," Comey said.
Within hours of the announcement, US President Barack Obama made a joint appearance with Clinton in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of several joint high-profile events intended to boost her chances against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in the race for the White House.
"I'm here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton," Obama told the fired-up crowd.
"There has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office. Ever!" Obama said, adding that "the other side's (Trump) got nothing to offer you."
The FBI has been investigating whether Clinton broke the law by using a personal email server kept in her Chappaqua, New York, home while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
As part of a yearlong probe into the case, FBI agents interviewed the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee for more than three hours on Saturday.
Comey said that after thoroughly reviewing the findings, he believed Clinton had not intended to violate laws and that "no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."
Republicans have sought to use the email controversy to question Clinton's judgment as she runs for president. And although Tuesday's announcement lifts a legal hurdle for Clinton's campaign, it is unlikely to erase concerns some voters have about her trustworthiness.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump slammed the decision, saying the "system is rigged."
"Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment," Trump wrote on Twitter soon after Comey's announcement. "FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow!"
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said last week that she would accept the recommendations of the FBI director and of career prosecutors, meaning that Comey's decision almost certainly removes the threat of criminal charges.
nm/kms (AP, Reuters)