FBI delivers documents on Hillary Clinton e-mail probe to US Congress

Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holds a rally at West Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 16.
Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holds a rally at West Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 16.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Tuesday (Aug 16) it has turned over to the US Congress a number of documents related to its investigation of Mrs Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

The FBI said it provided"relevant materials" to congressional committees looking into the matter. "The material contains classified and other sensitive information and is being provided with the expectation it will not be disseminated or disclosed without FBI concurrence," the agency said in a statement.

A spokesman for the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee said in an e-mail that staff for the panel were reviewing the information classified "secret". "There are no further details at this time," the aide said.

The Clinton campaign criticised the delivery of the documents.

"This is an extraordinarily rare step that was sought solely by Republicans for the purposes of further second-guessing the career professionals at the FBI," Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement. "We believe that if these materials are going to be shared outside the Justice Department, they should be released widely so that the public can see them for themselves, rather than allow Republicans to mischaracterize them through selective, partisan leaks."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, said in a statement that an initial review of the material showed most of it was marked unclassified, and urged the FBI to make as much of it public as possible.

The Democratic presidential nominee has for over a year been dogged by questions about her use of a private e-mail account while she was the nation's top diplomat.

Republicans have repeatedly hammered Mrs Clinton over the issue, helping to drive consistent opinion poll results showing that some US voters doubt her trustworthiness.

FBI director James Comey told Congress last month that Mrs Clinton's handling of classified information while using private e-mail servers was "extremely careless". But he said he would not recommend criminal charges be brought against her.

Mr Comey's statement lifted a cloud of uncertainty from Mrs Clinton's White House campaign. But his strong criticism of her judgment ignited a new attack on her by Republicans, including Mr Donald Trump, her Republican opponent in the Nov 8 election.

The Oversight committee, chaired by Representative Jason Chaffetz, had asked the FBI for the complete investigative file from its review of Mrs Clinton's use of a private e-mail server.

The FBI also provided documents from its investigation to the House Judiciary Committee, an aide said.

Mr Chaffetz and Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, also a Republican, last month called for federal prosecutors to investigate whether Clinton had committed perjury.

They said some FBI findings about her email servers were at odds with her previous testimony to Congress about the matter, for example, her statement that she had not sent or received information designated as classified.

But the FBI, in a letter sent to the committee to accompany its investigative documents on Tuesday, said the fact that the FBI had uncovered three instances where Clinton received e-mails containing "(C)" markings for classified was "not clear evidence of knowledge or intent" to mishandle classified information.

The letter noted relevant emails had been forwarded to Mrs Clinton by staff, lacked "header and footer markings" indicating the presence of classified information, and only one email was later determined by the State Department to contain classified information.

Mrs Clinton's fellow Democrats were scornful that Republicans were refusing to let the matter drop. "The FBI already determined unanimously that there is insufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Republicans are now investigating the investigator in a desperate attempt to resuscitate this issue, keep it in the headlines, and distract from Donald Trump's sagging poll numbers," said Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight committee.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he could see little "legitimate purpose" to which Congress would put the FBI materials, predicting that they would be leaked for political purposes.