House will ask FBI to investigate if Clinton lied to Congress

Haiyun Jiang

In a dramatic exchange Thursday between Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and FBI Director James Comey, the House Oversight Committee chairman announced he will formally request the FBI to investigate whether Hillary Clinton lied under oath to Congress.

{mosads}Comey was testifying before the committee regarding his agency’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of State.

Chaffetz asked him if the FBI had determined in its investigation that Clinton had lied.

“We have no basis to conclude that she lied to the FBI,” Comey said.

“Did she lie to the public?” Chaffetz asked.

“That’s a question I’m not qualified to answer. I can speak about what she said to the FBI,” Comey responded.

The Utah Republican then asked if the FBI had investigated whether Clinton perjured herself when addressing the server while testifying to Congress.

“Not to my knowledge. I don’t think there’s been a referral from Congress,” Comey responded.

“Do you need a referral from Congress to investigate her statements under oath?” Chaffetz asked.

“We sure do,” Comey shot back.

“You’ll have one,” Chaffetz said with a laugh. “You’ll have one in the next few hours.”

The move could open a new legal vulnerability for Clinton, who in recent weeks escaped both the threat of a federal indictment and severe reprimand from the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which found no evidence of wrongdoing in the handling of the 2012 terror attack on the Libyan city on Clinton’s part.

The FBI does not take it upon itself to investigate matters before Congress, Comey told lawmakers later in the hearing. Instead, it waits for a formal offer to open an inquiry before examining whether a crime may have occurred. 

“We have respect for the legislative branch being a separate branch,” Comey said.

“We don’t watch on TV and say, ‘We ought to investigate that, Joe Smith said this in front of the committee,’ ” he added. “It requires the committee to say, ‘We think we have an issue here, would you all take a look at it?’ ”

If Clinton is found to have lied under oath while discussing the server — such as during an 11-hour hearing with the House Select Committee on Benghazi last year — she could be subject to felony charges of perjury, Comey hinted.

— Updated at 1:45 p.m. 

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