National Security

Five panels still planning probes of Clinton emails

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Congressional Republicans are refusing to relent in their investigations into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, despite the former Democratic nominee’s defeat in the race for president last week. 

It’s a strategy that could be risky for the GOP, given the desire by many to move beyond the election and stop harping on an issue that was debated ad nauseum during the campaign.

{mosads}The Republican Party as a whole appears split on the path forward, with senior leaders such as Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) reluctant to focus on Clinton’s email issues as aggressively as her critics have in the past.

“I’m the majority leader; I set the agenda,” McCarthy, the House majority leader, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The agenda is going to be about job creation; it’s going to be about reforming and repealing ObamaCare. It’s going to be on infrastructure. That’s the focus that this election was about.”

As for Clinton, “I leave that portion to law enforcement,” McCarthy said. “That’s just the way I do it. Keep politics out of it.”

As many as five separate congressional committees have positioned themselves to continue investigations into Clinton’s private email setup from her time as secretary of State.

The House Judiciary Committee “will continue to press for answers to the questions about whether the investigation was thorough and whether there was special treatment given to the political elite,” one Republican committee aide said. “At this time, no hearings are planned.” 

The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee are also continuing to press on angles of Clinton’s email setup, lawmakers and staffers have maintained in recent days.

The House Science Committee had previously examined security arrangements of Clinton’s server, but a spokesperson on Monday could not say whether the panel would continue as before. The Senate Homeland Security Committee has also previously looked at the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s arrangement. A spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry on Monday.

Law enforcement officials have already made up their minds.

After a yearlong investigation, the Justice Department determined this summer that neither Clinton nor her senior allies had violated federal laws.

New emails discovered on the laptop of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), the estranged husband of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, prompted a renewed focus on the probe late in the campaign but ultimately led to naught. Clinton allies have claimed that the FBI’s late notice of the newly discovered emails cost her the election.

Republican lawmakers were livid when the Justice Department declined to press charges earlier this year. Multiple committees held hearings on different aspects of Clinton’s arrangement, including whether Justice had set a double standard. 

The lawmakers, like much of the country, seemed to be anticipating a Clinton victory on Election Day and appeared to be preparing to drag the investigations into her first term as president.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) had openly discussed impeachment proceedings as part of what seemed to be preparation for a full-on assault during a Clinton presidency.

Congressional Democrats have protested the intense scrutiny put on Clinton on Capitol Hill, which they have called a witch hunt similar to efforts from the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, called it “extremely disappointing” that his panel would “continue investigating Secretary Clinton for years to come.” 

“After everything our country has just been through — and particularly given that Donald Trump and Paul Ryan have both called for healing our nation’s divisions — I think the American people deserve more from Congress than to continue squandering taxpayer dollars on these baseless Republican accusations and partisan attacks.”

Before the election, one former Clinton aide said that House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and other GOP lawmakers were simply putting on airs to excuse their continued needling of Clinton. 

Now they’re not so sure.

One longtime Clinton friend called the posture taken by Chaffetz and others “so insulting and infuriating.”

“What doesn’t he understand? She’s a private citizen,” one longtime Clinton friend said. “What does he think they’re going to go after her for? He and Donald Trump should get together with a fourth-grade civics book. If she did something wrong, we have something called the FBI. 

“Someone is going to have to say to them, ‘Do you have nothing better to do?’ They can’t even be gracious winners.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton if he were elected. Had he already been president, he said, she would be in jail.

Some Republicans were thrilled at the announcement, though many critics called it a radical promise to jail a political opponent who had been cleared of suspicion.

Trump and his allies have remained mum about their plans for Clinton in the days since the election, and their tone regarding his formal rival has turned increasingly complimentary. The change in tone may suggest that Trump has abandoned the idea.

One longtime Clinton adviser said that what happens on Capitol Hill will ultimately “be a test of President-elect Trump’s leadership.”

“He can demonstrate that he is magnanimous, not vindictive, in victory and put the word out that this kind of obsession should stop, and everyone must focus on the future, not the past,” the adviser said. “If he allows it to proceed, and the congressional leadership also lets it happen, then it bodes ill for bipartisanship and suggests we are in for yet more gridlock and continuation of politics of political destruction.”

Tags Donald Trump FBI Hillary Clinton Jason Chaffetz Paul Ryan Ron Johnson

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