FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday refused to provide the House Judiciary Committee with any clue about whether the bureau will comply with a request to investigate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE for perjury.
“You cannot tell us whether you are indeed investigating?” Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteThe job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden MORE (R-Va.) asked during a hearing on FBI oversight.
Comey said he would not comment on a pending referral.
“When do you expect you will be able to tell us?” Goodlatte asked.
“I don’t know,” Comey said.
Goodlatte, along with Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah), in July issued a criminal referral to U.S. District Attorney Channing Phillips, asking him to investigate whether Clinton lied to Congress during her marathon 11-hour testimony before the Select Committee on Benghazi.
Shortly before, the FBI had released an unprecedented amount of information that it had collected during the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server while secretary of State that critics of the Democratic presidential nominee quickly seized on as evidence that she should have been prosecuted.
Asked during the course of an Oversight hearing whether 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.
“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," the two GOP leaders wrote in their formal request, sent shortly thereafter.
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.
Democrats have characterized the referral as a partisan attack designed to damage Clinton’s bid for the White House.
At issue is Clinton’s under-oath testimony that “there was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received.”
But Comey revealed in July that Clinton did, in fact, exchange emails through her private server that included information marked classified.
In order to commit perjury — which is a felony — a person must be proved to have lied willfully.
Officials have characterized those markings — a small “C” at the top of classified paragraphs — as atypical. Clinton told investigators that she did not know what a small C in that context meant, an explanation Comey has backed up in subsequent testimonies.
“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,” he said in July.
Standard government practice is to mark emails containing sensitive information at the top of the message or in the subject line.