Judiciary, Oversight chairmen demand Clinton perjury investigation

Judiciary, Oversight chairmen demand Clinton perjury investigation

The chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Monday formally requested that the Department of Justice open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Clinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views on misinformation Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee MORE lied to Congress.

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“The evidence collected by the FBI during its investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email system appears to directly contradict several aspects of her sworn testimony," GOP leaders on the panels wrote.  

"In light of those contradictions, the Department should investigate and determine whether to prosecute Secretary Clinton for violating statutes that prohibit perjury and false statements to Congress, or any other relevant statutes.”

The letter was signed by Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (Utah) and Judiciary Committee 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 (Va.) in a letter to the Washington, D.C. U.S. Attorney.

The move comes on the heels of the Justice Department’s decision not to press charges against Clinton for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State. Republicans, outraged that Clinton appears to be getting off scot-free despite mishandling classified information, have quickly pivoted to accusing her of perjury.

At issue is Clinton’s marathon 11-hour testimony before the House Benghazi panel last year, during which she insisted under oath that “there was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received.”

FBI Director James Comey revealed on Thursday that Clinton did, in fact, exchange emails through her private server that included information marked classified.

Asked during the course of a House Oversight hearing if the FBI had investigated “her statements under oath on this topic,” Comey said no, noting that he would need a referral from Congress to conduct such an investigation.

“You’ll have one,” Chaffetz vowed.

The FBI is not obligated to open an investigation based on a referral from Congress, several former Justice Department prosecutors told The Hill.

While there may be some cases when a referral requires a response, that’s “the exception and not the rule,” one former official said.

Oversight Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has already fired back on the referral, accusing Republicans of "sending a so-called 'criminal referral' devoid of any actual facts."

"Republicans are so frustrated with the FBI's unanimous decision that they are now completely unloading on Secretary Clinton with everything they've got-right before the presidential conventions," Cummings said in a statement. 

The GOP, he continued, is "now squandering even more taxpayer dollars in a desperate attempt to keep this issue alive and bring down Secretary Clinton's poll numbers ahead of the election."

Cummings argued that the three emails marked as classified were mislabeled through "human error" and cited the FBI director's assessment that it was "reasonable" that Clinton would not have immediately assumed they were restricted information. 

Comey himself provided some cover for the Democratic frontrunner in his Thursday testimony.

“I think it’s possible — possible — that she didn’t understand what a C meant when she saw it in the body of an email like that,” Comey said, referring to the official system of marking certain paragraphs as “confidential,” the lowest level of classification.

Standard government practice is to mark emails containing sensitive information at the top of the message or in the subject line.

And in order to commit perjury — which is a felony — a person must be proven to have lied willfully.

Chaffetz also sent a letter to Comey directly on Monday, demanding the FBI’s file on the Clinton investigation — including interview transcripts, documents collected, and any other analysis conducted in the court of the probe.

--This post was updated at 7:12 p.m.