“Decisions made by the Department of Justice in 2016 have led to a host of outstanding questions that must be answered.”
It was announced this Tuesday that the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, lead by Republican Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Trey Gowdy (R-SC), will begin a joint probe into the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The decision was made based on the sketchy, potentially politically charged procedures, timelines and conclusions made during the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her mishandling of highly classified information, the deletion of 30,000 emails during her time in office, all of which were contained on an unsecured private email server that, to quote Comey, had “less security than any Gmail account”.
The two representatives released a combined statement on Twitter declaring: “Decisions made by the Department of Justice in 2016 have led to a host of outstanding questions that must be answered.”
The two Republican leaders raise concerns over the FBI’s decision to openly announce the bureau’s investigation into Clinton, however similar investigations of Trump campaign associates were done with scrutiny.
Another point of concern is why the FBI formally notified Congress of the Clinton probe on two separate occasions and why the FBI — rather than the Justice Department — were the ones deciding to pursue charges on Clinton openly, as well as reasoning behind their joint decision.
“The Committees will review these decisions and others to better understand the reasoning behind how certain conclusions were drawn. Congress has a constitutional duty to preserve the integrity of our justice system by ensuring transparency and accountability of actions taken,” their statement concluded.
When asked by The Washington Examiner whether former FBI director James Comey will be interviewed in the investigation, Gowdy, South Carolina’s representative, simply replied: “Have to, won’t we? The decision to charge or not charge [Clinton] was made before all the witnesses were interviewed.”
This statement comes after the Judiciary Committee reviewed FBI documents, which were heavily redacted, revealing Comey began drafting his statement exonerating Clinton around April or May of 2016, months before the FBI even interviewed over 15 key witnesses, including Clinton herself and her closest aides. To say that’s the making of a complete investigation is ridiculous.
Comey’s own chief of staff, James Rybicki, who was interviewed by the Office of Special Counsel, confirmed Comey made his decision well before reviewing key evidence and witnesses. It was only in July 2016 when Comey made the announcement not to pursue any charges.
Questions regarding the case are not unwarranted. The most concerning ordeal was a secret airport meeting, days before Comey’s announcement, between former president Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who also decided not to pursue charges days later. Lynch swore all that was discussed was “golf, grandchildren and Brexit,” however, these days she “regrets” taking the meeting entirely.
“I wish I had seen around that corner and not had that discussion with the former president, as innocuous as it was, because it did give people concern,” Lynch told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired last December.“It did make people wonder is it going to affect the investigation that’s going on, and that’s not something that was an unreasonable question for anyone to ask.” I would add very unreasonable considering Lynch did not recuse herself from the investigation, stating she would just echo the FBI no matter what they said.
Another concern often cited was the FBI’s use of immunity agreements. Some of Clinton’s aides, such as Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff while she was Secretary of State, and Heather Samuelson, liaison between the State Department and Obama’s White House, were given immunity after Comey’s draft, saying this was for their “cooperation” with the investigation and providing evidence that easily could have been obtained with a warrant.
Democrats are already crying foul over the probe, labeling it a political distraction from the goal-post moving Trump-Russia narrative. Maryland’s Democratic Representative, Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said: “this new investigation is a massive diversion to distract from the lack of Republican oversight of the Trump administration and the national security threat that Russia poses.”
His fellow Democratic representative from Maryland and top member of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, released a statement:
“Ten months into the Trump Administration and House Republicans still have not held a single substantive oversight hearing on clear abuses by the President or his top aides. That amounts to ten months of abdication of responsibility — a near total failure to question, investigate, or challenge the President or the White House, including on grave allegations of obstruction of justice.
The Russian government continues to represent a clear and present threat to the United States and our democratic system, and we are the targets of near-constant cyberattacks by foreign adversaries. Yet House Republicans have taken no concrete steps to secure our next election. Apparently, House Republicans are more concerned about Jim Comey than Vladimir Putin.”
Comey disclosed during his June testimony, before the Senate Intelligence Committee, that the former Attorney General “urged” him to describe the probe into Clinton’s emails as a “matter” rather than a criminal investigation.
It gave him a “queasy feeling,” he confessed, stating it matched “how the [Clinton] campaign was talking about how the FBI was doing its work.”