Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to appoint a special counsel to oversee the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of private email as the nation’s top diplomat.
Cornyn said the investigation should be as “far removed from White House politics” as possible.
“In light of the unprecedented nature of the case and the multiple conflicts presented to the Department of Justice, I can see no other appropriate course of action than for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to appoint a special counsel to pursue this matter wherever the facts may lead,” he said on the Senate floor. “That need is underscored by the apparent inability by the White House to try to influence or at worst obstruct the current investigation.”
The State Department categorized at least 22 emails found on Clinton’s server as “Top Secret.” The agency recently announced it would not release them. In response, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said an indictment does not seem to be the direction in which the White House is heading.
“Either the White House has information that they should not have about the status of this ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI, or they’re sending a signal to the FBI and the Department of Justice that they want this to go away,” said Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary Committee.
“It’s hard for me to interpret these comments both by the president or his press secretary as anything other than trying to influence the FBI or the Department of Justice on the outcome the administration prefers.”
If Congress and the Obama administration want to regain the trust of the American people, Cornyn said, the public must know “there isn’t a separate set of rules for high government officials like a secretary of State and then you and me.”
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), a member of the House intelligence committee who has read the messages, said Clinton had to know the information in the private emails should have been classified.
“There is no way that someone, a senior government official who has been handling classified information for a good chunk of their adult life, could not have known that this information ought to be classified, whether it was marked or not,” Pompeo said.
“Anyone with the capacity to read and an understanding of American national security, an 8th grade reading level or above, would understand that the release of this information or the potential breach of a non-secure system presented risk to American national security.”
Cornyn pointed out that many top national security leaders have said it is likely foreign nations such as Russia and China monitored Clinton’s private server. He argued that Clinton “likely violated multiple criminal statutes.”
“For a secretary of State to conduct official business, including transmitting and receiving information classified at the SAP level on a private, unsecured server, when sensitive national defense information would likely pass through it is not just a lapse of judgment, it’s reckless disregard for the security of the American people,” he said.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who leads the select committee investigating the Benghazi attack, said lawmakers should “shut up” and allow the FBI investigation to continue.
“Everything I have heard about [FBI Director] Jim Comey tells me he is a straight arrow,” Gowdy said on Boston Herald Radio. “I am going to give him the room to do his investigation. He is not supposed to tell anyone what he is doing, he is not supposed to tell anyone what’s found and I wish my colleagues would shut up talking about the FBI investigation because this an executive branch entity.”