FBI Director Questions Hillary Clinton's Description of FBI Email Investigation

James Comey says the email investigation is not tied to a political deadline.

ByABC News
May 11, 2016, 6:00 PM

— -- Even though Hillary Clinton has repeatedly described the FBI probe over her use of a private email server as a "security inquiry," FBI Director James Comey today questioned the use of that phrase.

“I don’t know what that means," Comey told reporters today in Washington, D.C. "We’re conducting an investigation. That’s the bureau’s business. That’s what we do."

One reporter noted that former Secretary of State Clinton often refers to it as a "security inquiry."

The word "investigation" -- "it’s in our name,” Comey responded. “And I’m not familiar with the term ‘security inquiry.’”

In the past several months, Comey has repeatedly referred to this probe as an "investigation," including in a legal document filed in a freedom of information lawsuit related to her email case, related to Clinton's use of a private email server for official communication during her tenure as secretary of state.

Law enforcement officials confirmed to ABC News last week that the FBI had just finished interviewing a handful of Clinton’s closest aides and advisers as part of the investigation and that next it plans to ask Clinton herself for an interview, suggesting the review is nearing or entering its final stages.

Comey said today that he remains close to the investigation, but gave no indication of when it might be complete or what it might find.

“I don’t tether to any particular external deadline,” Comey said. “Look, I understand the interest in this particular investigation. And so I do feel the pressure to do it well and promptly. As between the two, I will always choose well.”

Sources have told ABC News that so far the investigation has found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Clinton has long maintained that she never mishandled, sent or received any email “marked” classified on her private server. But government reviews of the 55,000 emails she turned over to the State Department determined over a thousand of them contained information that later had to be upgraded to classified and withheld from public view, including 22 emails that had to be deemed "top secret."

Also this week, it was revealed that almost all the email from Secretary Clinton’s top IT staffer during her tenure at the State Department appears to be missing. That staffer, Bryan Pagliano, has become a key witness in the FBI investigation and has been granted immunity by the Justice Department in exchange for his cooperation.

Clinton’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Comey’s remarks.