Furious GOP lashes out at FBI

Furious GOP lashes out at FBI
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Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece MORE (R-Wis.) and other congressional Republicans are expressing anger and disbelief at the FBI’s decision that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Women's March endorses Nina Turner in first-ever electoral endorsement MORE should not be prosecuted for her use of a private email account while at the State Department. 

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was first out of the gate, declaring in a tweet that “the system is rigged” after FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not recommend charges against Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, even though his agency concluded her actions were “extremely careless.” 

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Ryan did not go quite as far as Trump, but he gave a green light for other Republicans to lash out at the FBI.

"While I respect the law enforcement professionals at the FBI, this announcement defies explanation,” Ryan said in a statement, warning it could put the nation’s secrets at future risk. “Declining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent.” 

Former House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said, “If she were a Republican, she would have been indicted by now.”

Texas Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsGOP divided on anti-Biden midterm message The Hill's Morning Report - Bidens to visit Surfside, Fla., collapse site Trump, GOP return to border to rev up base MORE (R) called it “a failure of our justice system.” 

“From the very beginning, this investigation was more about protecting Secretary Clinton’s reputation, than actually finding out the truth,” he said in a statement. 

Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (R-La.) said the FBI’s announcement “essentially gives her a pass based on politics, pure and simple.” 

He said voters are “sick and tired of the Washington elite insiders living under a different set of rules” and echoed Ryan’s warning that Comey’s statement “sets a dangerous precedent moving forward.” 

Democrats largely stayed out of the debate. Aides to Senate Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWarner backing 'small carve-out' on filibuster for voting rights Senate hopefuls embrace nuking filibuster Biden fails to break GOP 'fever' MORE (Nev.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) did not respond to requests for comment. 

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense: Senators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill | House panel looks to help military sexual assault survivors | US increases airstrikes to help Afghan forces fight Taliban On The Money: Schumer, Warren call on Biden to extend student loan pause | IMF estimates 6 percent global growth this year Senators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill MORE (Vt.) was one of the few voices in Congress to publicly come to Comey’s defense.

“The FBI took its responsibilities seriously, and came to a conclusion after carefully reviewing all the evidence,” he said in a statement. “I take Director Comey at his word that the FBI honestly and independently conducted an apolitical and professional investigation.”

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinNearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards Biden signs bill to bolster crime victims fund Stripping opportunity from DC's children MORE (Calif.), the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also praised Comey and the FBI for “a thorough and objective review,” noting his past service in a Republican administration.

Many Republicans said they could not reconcile the FBI’s decision not to prosecute with its finding that more than 113 emails processed by Clinton’s private server contained classified information, while eight chains contained information that were at the time considered top secret. 

After interviewing with the FBI over the Fourth of July weekend, Clinton told Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” that “I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified.” 

At his press conference Tuesday, Comey offered a detailed explanation of his agency’s decision. The FBI director rebuked Clinton in that statement, noting that while only a few of the 113 messages were marked classified, she and her aides “should have known” the information wasn’t appropriate for an unclassified system.

Still, Comey said the FBI could not “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges.”

Senior Republican lawmakers said that explanation fell short and are pushing the FBI to release more of the materials it gathered during the investigation. 

“If it wants to avoid giving the impression that the FBI was pulling punches, because many people in a similar situation would face some sort of consequence, the agency must now be more transparent than ever in releasing information gathered during its investigation,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOvernight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division Four senators call on Becerra to back importation of prescription drugs from Canada MORE (R-Iowa).

The unusual timing of the announcement fueled suspicions about possible political motives, coming just hours before Clinton was set to make her first public campaign appearance with President Obama in Charlotte, N.C.

“It was no accident that charges were not recommended against Hillary the exact same day as President Obama campaigns with her for the first time,” Trump said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

He and other Republicans pointed to an unusual meeting last week between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonFor families, sending money home to Cuba shouldn't be a political football Anything-but-bipartisan 1/6 commission will seal Pelosi's retirement. Here's why Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE, who appointed her U.S. attorney in 1999, had on an airport tarmac in Phoenix.

Lynch admitted the meeting created the impression of a possible attempt to exert political influence on the investigation and pledged to follow the advice of career government prosecutors. 

Republicans were also riled by the announcement of the FBI’s decision only a few days after Clinton sat down for a private interview with its investigators over the holiday weekend. Expert observers had expected it would take at least a week to evaluate her answers.

“Bill Clinton didn’t accidentally run into the Attorney General on the airport tarmac last week in Phoenix. Hillary Clinton didn’t accidentally sneak into the FBI during one of the country’s biggest holiday weekends to testify on her illegal activities, something that wouldn’t be afforded to others under investigation (and on a Saturday of all days),” Trump said in his statement. 

Under other circumstances, Trump’s claim that Comey, who was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in 2002 by former President George W. Bush, is driven by partisan motives might have caused other Republicans to distance themselves. On Tuesday, they rallied behind him.

“Today Comey and Obama’s [Department of Justice] made it clear to the American people there’s no accountability, no justice & the Clintons live by different rules,” tweeted Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill GOP Rep. Cawthorn says he wants to 'prosecute' Fauci Writer: Fauci, Paul clash shouldn't distract from probe into COVID-19 origins MORE (R-Ky.), who ran against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination.

“This is a loss for the rule of law and further degrades Americans’ faith in the justice system,” he added. 

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Tuesday reiterated Republican calls for the appointment of an independent counsel.

“The investigation by the FBI is steeped in political bias, especially considering that former President Bill Clinton met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch just days before the FBI announced its decision,” he said in a statement.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines MORE (R-Wis.) said his panel would continue its own investigation into whether Clinton improperly exposed national secrets. 

“The FBI’s statement today reinforces my concern that Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server put our nation’s secrets at risk,” he said. “I will continue my committee’s oversight to help preserve federal records and protect our national security.”  

Other Republicans held back from hitting Comey directly.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony McCarthy, McConnell say they didn't watch Jan. 6 hearing MORE (R-Ky.) declined to comment Tuesday afternoon, and other Senate Republicans focused on Clinton instead.

“While the FBI has made their decision, it won’t change the fact that Secretary Clinton flouted oversight and transparency norms by using a private email server,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamEight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden DACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats MORE (R-S.C.), a member of the Judiciary Committee.