A Texas GOP congressman on the House Judiciary Committee lashed out at Attorney General Loretta Lynch for her evasive testimony during Tuesday’s Capitol Hill hearing focused on Lynch’s decision not to charge former secretary of state Hillary Clinton with breaking federal law when she mishandled classified electronic correspondence.
“That shadow which you cast on the Department of Justice just got a whole lot bigger,” said Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas).
In one of the emotional high points of the more than four hours of back-and-forth between the congressmen and President Barack Obama’s second attorney general came when Ratcliffe challenged Lynch to pledge that she would not accept another hitch as attorney general if Hillary Clinton is elected president. After Lynch met privately with President Bill Clinton on her plane in Phoenix, there were media reports that the Clinton campaign would welcome Lynch joining the former first lady’s cabinet.
“Because if you’re not willing to rule out future employment in the Hillary Clinton administration, what that means is the American people have every right to wonder whether or not you looked at this through a fair and impartial lens,” the congressman said. Clinton is the expected Democratic nominee for president.
“Because your answer tells the American people that after the FBI Director told you that Ms. Clinton had been extremely careless with at least 110 emails marked as top secret, secret or classified and may have jeopardized the lives of actual Americans, and told you that she made numerous false public statements about sending, receiving or turning over classified materials, you might want to apply for a job with her?” he said.
Lynch was masterly in her blocking and deflecting of hostile and probing questions from the Republicans.
“While I understand that this investigation has generated significant 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,” she said. “I can tell you that I am extremely proud of the tremendous work of the dedicated prosecutors and agents on this matter.”
Ratcliffe said he was particularly frustrated that Lynch refused to answer whether her final decision weighed the strength of the evidence and the context of Hillary Clinton’s actions.
Lynch claimed she could not recall how long her meeting with the FBI lasted to review its recommendation on the Clinton email case, he said. Then, Lynch refused to answer whether during her review of the FBI’s investigation she at least reviewed the 110 emails containing classified information that we know Hillary Clinton sent and received on an unsecured, unauthorized server.
One of the issues troubling the congressmen was that once FBI Director James B. Comey Jr., made his July 5 recommendation that the Department of Justice not charge Clinton, it took Lynch less than 24 hours to agree with Comey and decide to close the case — especially because Comey said at the time that Lynch did not know what his decision would be.
“After a yearlong investigation involving 150 FBI agents working around the clock involving more than 30,000 emails, tens of thousands of man hours, that your thoughtful, careful weighing of the strength of evidence took you an afternoon? A cup of coffee with the FBI Director?” Ratcliffe asked.
“Your decision in this case for charges relating to a person who according to the FBI Director was extremely careless handling America’s most sensitive national security matters, and is seeking to be a candidate in charge of America’s most sensitive national security matters, took the better part of an afternoon?” he asked. “It didn’t last weeks. It didn’t last months. It didn’t take days. You weighed that evidence and determined her intent and gross negligence in a matter of hours.”
Last week, Ratcliffe joined 200 House Republicans in demanding answers to a series of questions raised by the FBI’s investigation and recommendation on Clinton.
The congressman said he supports efforts by House Republicans requesting an investigation of Clinton for lying under oath before Congress.