FBI says Hillary Clinton’s email was careless, but not illegal


Essential question

Why is important for a democratic government to be able to investigate lawmakers or officials who may have violated the law?

The FBI wrapped up a year-long investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server on Tuesday, announcing they found insufficient evidence of wrongdoing and would not press charges.

The investigation stems from Clinton’s time serving as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, when she used a private email server instead of a government-issued server for State Department business.

“Although we didn’t find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” FBI director James Comey said.

While Clinton has stated that she never sent any emails containing classified information, the FBI found that 110 emails did in fact contain sensitive information. Comey also said it was “possible” hostile actors gained access to Clinton’s account.

Republicans reacted negatively to the FBI’s findings. The investigation has been highly-politicized as Republican candidates repeatedly called Democratic nominee Clinton’s judgement into question for her use of private email.

“No charges. Wow. #riggedsystem,” tweeted Donald Trump, the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.

The Clinton campaign issued a statement after the FBI announcement, saying “we are pleased that the career officials handling this case have determined that no further action is appropriate.”

Key terms

classified information

— material that a government body claims is sensitive and requires protection of confidentiality; access is restricted by law and mishandling can incur criminal penalties

State Department

— the department of the U.S. federal government responsible for conducting foreign policy

email server

— a computer that runs software in order to send, deliver and store electronic mail messages

Warm up questions (


watching the video)

  1. What do you know about the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails?
  2. What is the FBI?
  3. Why do governments mark certain information as classified or top secret?

Critical thinking questions (


watching the video)

  1. Why did the FBI conduct an investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server?
  2. Why are some Republicans upset at the FBI’s findings?
  3. Do you think the email scandal will affect Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency? Explain.


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