House GOP launches pair of inquiries into Hillary Clinton

It’s almost been a year since the 2016 presidential election, but Republicans are putting the spotlight back on a familiar political foil: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP warns Graham letter to Pelosi on impeachment could 'backfire' Hillary Clinton praises former administration officials who testified before House as 'gutsy women' Third-quarter fundraising sets Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg apart MORE.

On Tuesday, top House Republicans launched a pair of investigations. The Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees will jointly investigate the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s handling of classified documents. Meanwhile, the latter committee with the Intelligence committee will jointly probe the sale of a uranium company to a Russian firm when Clinton was secretary of State.

The seemingly coordinated investigations — which were announced within a half-hour of each other — is sure to fire up the conservative base and infuriate Democrats who want House investigators to more rigorously probe Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election in favor of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE.

“It’s totally stupid,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a chief Trump critic, said of the pair of GOP investigations into Clinton. He lamented that Republicans were treating Clinton as if she had won the White House last year. “If they want to install Hillary Clinton as president, then I’d be fine investigating the president.”

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The new House investigations are reminiscent of GOP probes last campaign cycle that focused on Clinton’s private email server, her handling of classified information and her response to the deadly 2012 Benghazi attack while she was leading the State Department. Those investigations chipped away at Clinton’s credibility and popularity at a time when she was running for the White House. 

These new probes, backed by GOP leadership, come just as Republicans begin to gear up for the 2018 midterm elections, where they are aggressively defending both chambers of Congress.

But those involved in the new House probes argued that these are legitimate issues that Republicans have been asking about and wanting to investigate for years.

Former Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-N.Y.), a member of the Intelligence panel, said he first raised questions about the Russian uranium deal when it was approved in 2010. But last week, The Hill reported that before the Obama administration had approved the Uranium One sale, the FBI had gathered evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering to infiltrate the U.S. energy market. 

“New evidence has just come out,” King told The Hill. “We found out within the last week there could have been an investigation by the FBI. That’s very pertinent.”

Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Oversight Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyCNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate The Hill's Morning Report — Arrest of Giuliani associates triggers many questions Trump says Gowdy can't join his legal team 'for a couple months' MORE (R-S.C.) and other Republicans want to know whether there was, in fact, an FBI investigation into Russian efforts to infiltrate the U.S. energy market and whether  Clinton and the Obama administration should have approved the deal in the first place.

As for the other probe, Gowdy and Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.) said they have questions about why the FBI decided to go public with its investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified information while surreptitiously investigating Trump campaign associates.

They also want to know why the FBI, not the Justice Department, recommended that Clinton not be charged after the investigation was completed.

“Questions surrounding the Obama Department of Justice’s handling of the investigation into Secretary Clinton should be fully examined. That investigation gave us more questions than it did answers,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a senior member of the Oversight panel and the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

“The fact that Secretary Clinton lost an election and Loretta Lynch no longer serves as Attorney General should not allow their questionable conduct to go without appropriate scrutiny.”

However, not all Republicans are thrilled with the idea of continuing to probe Clinton deep into the 2018 campaign cycle.

Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and other members of the centrist Tuesday Group said focusing on Clinton forces the GOP to look backward rather than to the future.

“I believe that race has already been run. That day is over,” Joyce told The Hill. “It’s time for us to move on as Republicans.”

Another Republican who is close to leadership lamented that launching the pair of Clinton-related probes now is distracting from the party’s No. 1 priority: passing tax reform.

“We’ve been champing at the bit to get information about these things for years. A lot of us have real serious questions about both of these issues,” said the GOP lawmaker.

“But I think it’s better to keep the focus on tax reform. I’m not sure it’s great politics to have all these other distractions. I just think anything that distracts from tax reform is not helpful.”


Katie Bo Williams and Olivia Beavers contributed.