While President-elect Donald Trump pledged in his victory speech to “come together as one united people,” a top House Republican said that he will continue to investigate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman finishing his first term leading the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, made it clear the partisan bitterness that marked the presidential campaign is not going to go away.
“It would be totally remiss of us to dismiss [the email investigation] because she’s not going to be president,” Chaffetz said of the defeated Democratic nominee.
“I still have a duty and obligation to get to the truth about one of the largest breaches of security at the State Department,” he said. “Tens of thousands of documents still have not been turned over to Congress.”
Last week, senior Republican lawmakers were openly discussing the prospect of impeaching Clinton for setting up a private email server for official State Department business, even though the FBI concluded after two investigations that she should not be criminally prosecuted.
Impeachment, of course, was a GOP dream if Clinton won.
But Chaffetz said he has a “duty” to find thousands of Clinton’s communications that have not been made public to determine if they contain classified information. He also said some State Department employees who helped set up the email server in her New York home could lose their security clearances.
Chaffetz said his committee will probably call State Department employees to do transcribed interviews with lawmakers, and may hold hearings.
“Do I anticipate calling Hillary Clinton to testify?” he said. “No.” But other State Department staff could be dragged, again, into an investigation that to many seemed closed.
Democrats said it’s time to put the email controversy to rest: Clinton lost.
“It is extremely disappointing that Chairman Chaffetz plans to continue investigating Secretary Clinton for years to come,” Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement.
“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.”
During its investigation, the FBI recovered thousands of emails the agency believed Clinton had not turned over to the State Department but which were work-related. Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, has filed dozens of civil open-records lawsuits against the agency for Clinton-related documents. Justice Department lawyers have said these emails will eventually be made public – but it will take years for most of them to be cleared under public-records laws and released.
Chaffetz said that’s too long, and predicted that “a Trump administration would be cooperative in getting these floodgates to open as they should.”
Trump said last month he would appoint a special prosecutor to examine Clinton’s use of a private email server. Such a prosecution would have to be pursued by his attorney general, who would have to agree with his assessment that the email practices violated criminal laws governing mishandling of classified information.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Lisa Rein