Grassley defends Hillary Clinton probe

Grassley defends Hillary Clinton probe
© Lauren Schneiderman

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate Dems plan floor protest ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote It's time for Republicans to play offense while Democrats are weak A bipartisan consensus against 'big pharma' is growing in Congress MORE (R-Iowa) is defending his committee's investigation into Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonAmazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods underscores the threat posed by ‘big data’ Pro-Trump group blasts 'rigged' Russia probe in ad starring Tomi Lahren Trump believes Russia 'probably' behind election hacking MORE's private email server, accusing the State Department of dodging his questions for years. 

"The investigation referred to involves many things, but it does not involve politics," the Iowa Republican, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday. "My investigation into the potential abuse of special government employee designations and Secretary Clinton's use of a personal email server and the potential spillage of classified information is not political. It's evidence-based and it's got something to do with our national security." 

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Grassley made the remarks after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ripped the Iowa Republican during a floor speech on Monday afternoon, suggesting he was wasting money to try to bring down the former secretary of State's presidential campaign.

"Why are nonpartisan public service positions being used as political pawns," Reid said at the time. "How much money will Republicans in Congress waste to try to bring down Hillary Clinton?" 

But Grassley fired back that it is "simply not true" that his investigation is tied to politics, instead pointing to decades of advocating for congressional oversight into both Republican and Democratic administrations. 

Grassley has drawn Democratic ire for blocking 22 State Department nominations, including approximately 20 foreign service officers. But he suggested on Tuesday that the holds are because department officials have dodged inquiries from Grassley dating back to 2013. 

"The department's lack of cooperation has caused me to place 22 holds on its nominees," he said, adding that two and a half years later, "the State Department has still not produced the materials I've requested. The department has implemented several clever strategies to delay the process." 

Specifically, he noted that he hasn't received an answer from the department over whether it signed off on Clinton's private email server or any communications about the server. 

"It eventually gets down to whether anybody is above the law. Senior government officials and regular employees should get equal treatment under the law, and that treatment should be fair and it should be objective," he added. "It's apparent that some have selective memory when it comes to putting value on constitutional congressional oversight and our constitutional congressional investigations." 

Grassley has been at the center of the Senate's investigation into Clinton's private email server. 

The Iowa Republican has sent multiple letters to top administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, related to a thumb drive that holds copies of Clinton's emails from when she served as secretary of State, as well as a potential investigation into longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

Separately, Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, have tried to set up interviews with officials responsible for overseeing her server that Clinton maintained in her New York home.

Though Reid on Monday demanded that Grassley detail how much his committee was spending on the investigation, the Republican senator appeared undeterred Tuesday. 

"I'm going to keep at this constitutional responsibility of oversight regardless of misguided attacks on my motivations," he added.