GOP leader suggests panel overstepped with Clinton email probe

GOP leader suggests panel overstepped with Clinton email probe
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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday said a House panel had overstepped its jurisdiction with its probe into the security of former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump in campaign mode at NRA convention Vicente Fox to Trump: ‘Being president ain’t easy’ When political opportunity knocked, Jason Chaffetz never failed to cash in MORE’s private email server.

In mid-January, House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent letters to four companies that played roles in maintaining and protecting Clinton’s personal server.

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The letters have caught McCarthy’s attention, who told reporters he believed those inquiries should have been purview of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyRussia investigation 'back on track' after Nunes recusal Five questions for the House's new Russia investigator Chaffetz decision stuns Washington MORE (R-S.C.)

“I have the same impression as you, that it would be Gowdy's jurisdiction,” McCarthy said Monday afternoon, when asked whether Gowdy’s panel should be overseeing the investigation.

McCarthy then repeated his answer verbatim when pressed on whether Smith had given the Republican leader a heads up before sending the letters.

After Clinton’s email practices at the State Department were revealed, former Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE (R-Ohio) pushed for Gowdy’s committee to handle any future probes.

Monday night, Mike Long, a spokesman for McCarthy, clarified.  

"The Select Committee's focus is on emails pertaining to the attack in Benghazi," he said. "The FBI is investigating all other issues related to her private server and email account." 

Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been knocked for her use of a private email server during her time as head of the State Department.

She used a private email address hosted on a server registered to her Chappaqua, N.Y., home instead of an official government account. The arrangement alarmed security experts and raised questions about whether sensitive information was exposed to foreign hackers and spies.

The State Department on Friday said that 22 emails on Clinton’s server have been classified as top secret, turning up the pressure on Clinton days before the Iowa caucuses.

A spokesman for Smith, Zachary Kurz, told The National Journal that the chairman was following up on a January hearing on cybersecurity.

“Dur­ing the hear­ing, the chair­man had an ex­change with a private-sec­tor wit­ness who stated un­equi­voc­ally that a fed­er­al of­fi­cial us­ing a private serv­er and email ad­dress as her of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment email risked ex­pos­ing clas­si­fied data and that his com­pany wouldn’t do it be­cause of fed­er­al laws and cy­ber­se­cur­ity guidelines,” Kurz said. “Based on that testi­mony, the chair­man de­term­ined that fur­ther over­sight was ne­ces­sary.”

Smith’s investigation is running parallel with a similar inquiry led by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonTrump signs executive order creating new VA office Trump tax plan prompts GOP fears about deficit Lawmakers targeted as district politics shift MORE (R-Wis.). The FBI is also conducting its own investigation.

“Understanding these companies’ roles in providing software and services to maintain former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server is critical to improving government cybersecurity standards,” Smith said when launching his investigation.

“A high profile government official deviating from established information security requirements raises significant concerns,” he added.

— Scott Wong contributed.

— Updated 9:29 p.m.