Boehner turns up heat on Hillary

Boehner turns up heat on Hillary

As Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton responds to Trump tweets telling Dem lawmakers to 'go back' to their countries The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president MORE wooed fellow Democrats in the Capitol last month, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAmash's critics miss the fact that partisanship is the enemy of compromise A cautionary tale for Justin Amash from someone who knows Border funding bill highlights the problem of 'the Senate keyhole' MORE was down the hall taking jabs at the former secretary of State before a bank of TV cameras.

“I wonder if she brought her emails,” he quipped.

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For months, the Ohio Republican has used his powerful perch to draw attention to the email controversy engulfing Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner and the GOP’s biggest threat in 2016.

The sustained attacks from the top House Republican have fanned the flames, highlighting an issue that appears to be chipping away at Clinton’s credibility and poll numbers.

About 48 percent of Americans said they now have a negative view of Clinton, while 37 percent percent have a positive view, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out this week. In June, only 40 percent had a negative view, while 44 percent had a positive one.

“After seeing her numbers, I think the American people are saying: ‘Look, this lady has no credibility,’ ” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), a member of the special committee Boehner created to investigate the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that happened on Clinton’s watch.

The panel, led by Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyCummings announces expansion of Oversight panel's White House personal email probe, citing stonewalling Pelosi says it's up to GOP to address sexual assault allegation against Trump Our sad reality: Donald Trump is no Eisenhower MORE (R.C.), has been demanding that Clinton and the State Department turn over all of the former secretary’s correspondences — a call the Speaker has echoed at every opportunity.

In his weekly news conferences, Boehner’s repeatedly called on Clinton to hand over her private email server to a “neutral third party,” the State Department’s inspector general. Just this summer, his media team posted more than a dozen entries about Clinton’s emails on his “Speaker’s Blog,” including one on Thursday.

And he frequently takes to Twitter to needle Clinton about the email flap.

“If Sec Clinton truly has nothing to hide,” Boehner tweeted on July 27, “she can prove it by immediately turning over server to proper authorities.”

“Sec Clinton said ‘I don’t throw anything away. I’m like two steps short of a hoarder ...’  Boehner tweeted just three days later. “So why did she wipe her server?”

“The Speaker has a different forum that he has access to compared to a member of the committee or even the chairman,” Westmoreland said in a phone interview. “So I think it is very important for the Speaker to back up Chairman Gowdy and the committee and ask for the production of these emails.”

The Speaker himself formed the House Select Committee on Benghazi last year. And it’s been in overdrive this summer, holding hearings, deposing witnesses and issuing news releases to compel Clinton to turn over all email records from her and her top aides at State.

Clinton has agreed to appear before the select committee on Oct. 22 to address questions about Benghazi and her private email server — a highly anticipated public showdown that will pit the White House hopeful against Gowdy and other top GOP critics.

But it’s also benefitted Republicans that the media has been tracking every twist and turn in the email saga. The Washington Post reported this week that the FBI is now looking into the security of Clinton’s email system, whose private server had been stored in her home in Chappaqua, New York. FBI officials have reached out to Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, about the security of a thumb drive he has which contains copies of Clinton’s emails from when she led the State Department.

Republicans are furious that a handful of emails from Clinton’s personal account contained classified information, though her campaign has said it wasn’t marked as classified at the time. The emails should have been stored on a secure government server, not a private one, her critics say.

But it’s hard to find another Republican who’s done more than Boehner to call attention to the email controversy. In mid-July, during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Boehner accused Clinton of lying after she said she had no legal obligation to turn over her records. Last week, Boehner, reading from his notes, urged Clinton to “come clean” and hand over her email server.

The 17 candidates seeking the GOP presidential nomination have also taken aim at Clinton over her emails, though former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have used private email addresses themselves while in office. The Speaker, meanwhile, has been able to seize on the email flap without facing much political blowback: In his third and perhaps final term as Speaker, he’s not running for the White House himself and the email scandal is red meat for conservatives in the party.

It’s reminiscent of Harry Reid’s relentless —and ultimately baseless — attacks on Mitt Romney from the Senate floor in which the Democratic leader repeated rumors that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee had paid no taxes for a decade.  

“So the word is out that [Romney] has not paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove he has paid taxes because he has not,” Reid said in a floor speech three years ago this month. “We already know from one partial tax return he gave us he has money hidden in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and a Swiss bank account. I am not making that up.”

State Department officials say they are cooperating with congressional investigators. They point out that they’ve handed over more than 50,000 pages of records to the Benghazi panel, including emails from Clinton and her senior staff.

The Clinton campaign didn't respond to emails seeking comment. But Clinton allies have blasted Boehner’s efforts as purely partisan, calling his Benghazi Committee nothing more than a “political harassment operation formed to smear Hillary Clinton.”

“To score the political points he so desperately needs with his own party’s base, John Boehner has jumped on board — albeit belatedly — the political sideshow and GOP fundraising tool that is the House Benghazi Committee,” said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for Correct The Record, a super-PAC that defends Clinton from GOP attacks.

Boehner aides insisted the Speaker’s focus on emails is about much more than Hillary Clinton  it’s about a broader lack of transparency from the Obama administration.

“The Administration’s obstructionism surrounding Secretary Clinton’s secret email system perfectly illustrates their lack of openness and transparency,” said Boehner spokeswoman Emily Schillinger.  “From day one, the Speaker has charged Chairman Gowdy to get the facts and deliver accountability.  

“We’re supporting his efforts by highlighting the ongoing untruths and fabrications from anyone who tries to mislead the American people,” she added.