Hours after FBI Director James Comey blasted Hillary Clinton and her aides for their "extremely careless" handling of classified information, the State Department rejected Comey's conclusion that the agency had a "lax culture" surrounding the treatment of sensitive material.
"We don't share the assessment that as an institution ... that the State Department has in the past or does today take lightly the issue of sensitive and classified information," agency spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday.
Comey had said earlier Tuesday that the "security culture" at State was found to be "lacking" during the FBI's year-long investigation into Clinton's private email use. Agents discovered on Clinton's multiple servers 110 emails that should have been considered classified at the time they were written.
Kirby also refused to comment on whether Clinton and the handful of State Department aides who transmitted classified intelligence on her private network retained their security clearances in light of the FBI investigation into their activities. The spokesman cited an agency policy preventing public comment on individual security clearances.
The State Department may still take action against the individuals involved in the mishandling of classified intelligence, Kirby said.
"The department will determine the appropriate next steps following a decision by the Department of Justice," Kirby noted, referencing the fact that the Justice Department must officially rule on whether to accept Comey's recommendations.
"We have an administrative process to evaluate cases where information might have been mishandled," Kirby added. "At the request of the FBI, we didn't move forward with that process."
The agency spokesman refused to comment on contradictions exposed by the FBI, including the fact that he and other spokesmen had repeatedly argued no emails on Clinton's servers were ever marked classified when several were indeed marked as such.