08212019What's Hot:

Hill Republicans raring to investigate Clinton from Day One

In a rare instance of self-restraint, congressional Republicans deferred to the FBI when it came to investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails as the presidential election unfolded.

It’s safe to say the past four days have obliterated any vestige of their inhibition.

Story Continued Below

If the GOP wins either or both chambers of Congress next week, and Clinton takes the White House, she’s likely to come under investigation by Capitol Hill from Day One, or possibly before she’s even sworn in. FBI Director James Comey’s recent decision to revisit the probe of her email setup, and an assortment of Justice sources who’ve leaked to the press since Friday, have armed GOP lawmakers with more than enough ammunition to rev up their own investigations, say Republican sources on Capitol Hill.

The dynamic could sour relations between Clinton and Capitol Hill from the get-go, dousing any hope of even a brief honeymoon for Clinton should she defeat Donald Trump next week.

Reports that FBI agents and Justice officials disagreed over how to carry out the Clinton email investigation and whether to greenlight a probe of the Clinton Foundation has Republicans chomping at the bit to get their own answers.

161101_Bennie_Thompson_getty_1160.jpg

Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah is asking whether FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — whose wife received almost a half-million dollars in campaign contributions from a group connected to Clinton confidant Terry McAuliffe — recused himself from the email investigation. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa wants to know whether Justice officials tied agents’ hands by limiting investigative techniques.

And the heads of the House Judiciary and Senate Homeland Security committees, as well as intelligence panels on both sides of the Capitol, are asking some of the same questions and seeking briefings from the Justice Department. Those briefings are unlikely to occur before the election.

“Regardless of who wins on Nov. 8, we must address the Obama administration’s overreach and Secretary Clinton’s State Department failures,” said Oversight Committee member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in an emailed statement. “While the Benghazi Committee’s authorization concludes at year’s end, we need to continue investigating Secretary Clinton’s email scandal, and alleged impropriety between the State Department and Clinton Foundation.”

Since Comey last week announced his agents would revisit the email case, Republicans have been on the edge of their seats trying to figure out what he discovered. Some, including Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida, have speculated that Comey’s willingness to put his reputation on the line by dropping explosive news less than two weeks before the election suggests he found something groundbreaking.

Clinton abandons pivot to positive campaign

“I would imagine that they have some evidence that’s relatively significant to go through the extraordinary step to write a letter to the leaders of all these committees,” DeSantis told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” over the weekend.

But thus far, the FBI hasn’t tipped its hand. While Comey spoke with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and ranking Democrat John Conyers (D-Mich.) over the weekend, sources say their conversation covered only what was in Comey’s Friday letter. Since then, the FBI has told multiple congressional committees that it can’t comment beyond that document, at least for now.

In the meantime, Republicans are compiling a laundry list of questions for Comey or Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) over the weekend asked the Justice Department about reports that officials tried to discourage Comey’s disclosure to Congress.

Grassley wants to know from Comey about whether Justice Department officials ever rejected FBI agents’ requests for search warrants or subpoenas or to empanel a grand jury. Those questions hint at GOP theories that Justice officials may have limited the scope of the investigation. A recent Wall Street Journal report indicated that DOJ reined in FBI agents looking into possible impropriety by the Clinton Foundation. It’s unclear whether that also occurred with the Clinton email investigation.

160111-james-comey-getty-1160.jpg

“The FBI has all these resources — they used them for other investigations of this type — but here [with the Clinton probe] they really investigated with one hand behind their back,” said a Republican source who works for a congressional committee with oversight authority. “They didn’t do subpoenas. They didn’t do search warrants. They relied on these agreements that limit what they can look at and how they can use that information.”

The person continued, “They certainly handcuffed themselves, and that can certainly be something people look into down the line, depending on what happens.”

Capitol Hill Republicans are also now asking about recent reports alleging that FBI officials working on the email investigation would not share messages relevant to the Clinton Foundation probe. As part of an immunity agreement with Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills and her deputy Heather Samuelson, the FBI promised to destroy both of their laptops handed over to authorities.

Republicans have asked the FBI whether it destroyed the technology used to sift through Clinton’s emails but haven’t received an answer.

At some point, Republican leaders will have to decide how far they’re willing to go with the Clinton investigations. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) this fall greenlighted his committee chairmen to pursue various Clinton-related investigations, after Comey recommended not prosecuting the former secretary of state.

It won’t be easy to rein in some committee heads.

“Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up,” Chaffetz told The Washington Post last week. “She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

comments powered by HyperComments

More on the topic