Following the FBI’s announcement that it wouldn’t pursue the case against Hillary Clinton for her handling of emails while serving as the nation’s top diplomat, frustrated congressional Republicans are mulling action against the Democratic presidential candidate.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Wednesday that GOP lawmakers are not “going to foreclose any options” in determining whether Congress can continue the email investigation.
“With no indictment occurring, a discussion, or a call for administrative action, is the least we can do, given how she was so reckless in handling classified material and sending classified information on an unsecured server,” Ryan told reporters.
Following FBI Director James Comey’s acknowledgement Tuesday that Clinton handled the emails in a way that put sensitive information at risk, Ryan and his colleagues contend that the Democratic frontrunner should at very least be stripped of her security clearance.
That could cause problems for the former first lady’s presidential campaign, as she would begin receiving classified briefings following the Democratic National Convention when she officially becomes the party’s nominee.
House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) said taking away Clinton’s security clearance should only be a “first step” in a congressional plan to punish the former top diplomat.
“I’ve read those 22 top-secret emails that she had on her private server, that Director Comey has confirmed are now likely in the hands of our enemies,” he told reporters. “If you have a family member in the military, they are less safe today as a result of what Secretary Clinton did.”
GOP lawmakers are also planning to grill top Justice Department officials about how they reached the decision to let Clinton off the hook.
On Thursday, Comey will appear before the House Oversight Committee to face lawmaker questions about the FBI’s investigation.
“The fact pattern presented by Director Comey makes clear Secretary Clinton violated the law,” Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said in a statement announcing the hearing. “Individuals who intentionally skirt the law must be held accountable.
“Congress and the American people have a right to understand the depth and breadth of the FBI’s investigation.”
GOP lawmakers have also requested that inspectors general from the State Department and intelligence community attend the hastily-arranged hearing.
Democrats, meanwhile, are accusing the GOP of a political witch-hunt.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Panel, compared the current situation to GOP inquiries into the Benghazi attack.
“Republican after Republican praised Director Comey’s impeccable record of independence — right up until the moment he issued his conclusion,” Cummings said in a statement Wednesday.
“Since Republicans disagree with his recommendation, they are doing what they always do — using taxpayer funds to continue ‘investigating’ their baseless claims in an effort to bring down Secretary Clinton’s poll numbers.”
If Cummings is concerned with poll numbers, however, he may want to take a look at the latest numbers out from Rasmussen since the FBI announcement about the Clinton emails.
Polling from that organization found that 54 percent of Americans disagreed with the FBI decision not to indict Clinton. Breaking the numbers down by party affiliation, 79 percent of Republicans disagreed with the FBI as did 63 percent of independent voters. Perhaps most surprisingly, a quarter of Democratic voters polled also said Clinton should have faced an indictment.