The Arizona congressman with 12 years on the House Judiciary Committee threw in the towel after just one question to Attorney General Loretta Lynch during her testimony Tuesday in front of the House Judiciary Committee.
It was frustrating when Lynch blocked and deflected all attempts by Republicans to get answers relating to her decision not to charge former secretary of state Hillary Clinton with breaking federal law when she mishandled classified electronic correspondence, said Rep. Trent Franks (R.-Ariz.). The hearing had been on the committee calendar for many weeks and was originally to review operations of the Department of Justice, which is part of the committee’s portfolio.
Yet, she would not even concede to the Republican congressmen that she made the decision, only that she had “accepted” the recommendation from FBI Director James B. Comey Jr. and the team of agents and prosecutors who worked with Comey on the investigation of Clinton.
Franks said he had up to 10 questions ready for the hearing, but once he heard her first answer he knew it was a waste of time going up against a world-class stonewaller.
“Hall of Fame. World-class,” he said. “This lady is world-class with it comes to blatant dissemination of any facts or testimony that she would give before this committee.”
The congressman said, “She is totally gifted at it. I have been on this committee for 12 years and never have I seen such an awe-inspiring and clear dissemination–it is really quite impressive.”
Most of Lynch’s answers were riffs on this construct: “While I understand that this investigation has generated public interest, as attorney general it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on the underlying facts of the investigation or the legal basis for the team’s recommendation. But, I can tell you that I am extremely proud of the tremendous work of the dedicated prosecutors and agents on this matter.”
When Lynch was asked about Comey, she told the congressman she would have to refer him to Comey. When Lynch was asked about the State Department procedures or email or its handling of classified information, she would refer the congressman to State. Asked to interpret the federal law Clinton has been accused of violating, Lynch replied: “I think the statute speaks for itself.”
The congressman said he did not have a chance and he saw other Republicans, many of them former prosecutors, getting the same treatment.
“It was so one-sided, it was really kind of sad,” he said.
“If it was just the matter of a contest between Democrats and Republicans that would be one thing,” he said. “But, the very question of what our country is is at issue here: ‘Can the people have that their elected officials who swore before God that they will uphold the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the land will do so–if they don’t, then voting and a lot of other things become sort of superfluous, doesn’t it?”
“There are only two real dynamics [of] government,” he said.
“It’s either the rule of man or the rule of law. Either someone’s in charge because they are bigger and stronger and or we’re going to have a rule of law–we have chosen to have a rule of law. We fought that little unpleasantness with England over it,” he said.
“Today, we saw the rule of law take a direct hit from someone, who was really the one held up in this country to be our Number One law enforcement officer,” he said.