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In early memo draft, Comey called Clinton 'grossly negligent' — a charge with criminal implications

New memos presented to Congress on Monday show that former FBI Director James Comey initially planned to call Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information "grossly negligent," The Hill reports. An early draft of Comey's statement on the investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server made the claim — which carries legal implications — but Comey eventually softened the language.

The version of the memo released Monday that called Clinton "grossly negligent" was apparently written weeks before Comey's July 2016 press conference, where he ultimately called Clinton's use of a private email server "extremely careless." Comey at the time also recommended no criminal charges against the former secretary of state, because although there was "evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information," he said "no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."

The Hill notes that the change in language may have had significant consequences in the decision not to charge Clinton with a crime, as "gross negligence in handling the nation's intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines." A source who spoke anonymously to The Hill said that Comey's chief of staff Jim Rybicki, along with the FBI's deputy director Andrew McCabe and general counsel James Baker, were involved in the drafting of the statement.

In August, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that they had received partial interview transcripts that showed Comey had started drafting a statement rejecting criminal charges for Clinton about two months before the FBI interviewed her regarding her private email server.