FBI director on Clinton email probe: 'There's no special set of rules'

FBI Director James Comey prepares to testify before the Senate Judicary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

Story highlights

  • FBI Director James Comey spoke to a roundtable of reporters on Wednesday
  • Comey said he didn't say "security inquiry" in reference to the probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server

Washington (CNN)FBI Director James Comey stayed tight-lipped about the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private server and reiterated to reporters during a roundtable Wednesday that there is no external deadline to finish the probe, despite the upcoming Democratic convention in July.

However, Comey admitted he does feels "pressure" like he does with any high-profile case to do the investigation both promptly and well -- with an emphasis on "well."
    Clinton and her team have consistently called the matter a "security inquiry," but Comey said that's not a term he's familiar with and said "we're conducting an investigation. That's what we do."
    Asked about complaints from security clearance holders that they would be in jail if they acted similarly to Clinton, the FBI director would only say "there's no special set of rules for anybody that the FBI investigates."
    Comey also said ISIS is losing its luster in the United States. adding, "the ISIL brand has lost significant power" and cited a decrease in the number of foreign fighters traveling or attempting to travel to Syria to fight with the terrorist group.
    However, he noted ISIS terrorists in Syria still have "the ability to appeal to troubled souls" online and said the number of open terrorism cases is upwards of 1,000. Comey said 80% of those cases are ISIS-related and others are a mix of terrorism influences.
    He added that in many cases, investigators are trying to figure out where that person falls on the terrorism spectrum. Comey said it is now clear to investigators that ISIS was a "dominant influence" in the San Bernardino attacks based on media pulled from the couple's electronics, but he would not go into detail into what was on the phone the FBI hacked into recently.
    In response to the very public battle between the FBI and Apple over the San Bernardino's phone, Comey described the relationship with Apple and other tech companies as "productive and appropriate." Comey said this year, there are about 500 out of 4,000 phones examined by the FBI that can't be unlocked and hinted more legal battles are likely inevitable.
    Comey also sounded the alarm on the rising number of homicides in the United States with mostly black and Latino victims. He said the numbers are going up and continue to go up faster from last year in major cities.
    While he steered clear of calling it the "Ferguson Effect," he did say the number is potentially on the rise because of the viral video effect and the "marginal pullbacks of officers" based on private conservations he has had with law enforcement leaders across the country. Last fall, Comey sparked controversy when he made similar comments, and at the time, White House officials distanced themselves from Comey's analysis.