Two Republican congressmen on Monday formally requested that the U.S. Attorney for the District investigate whether Hillary Clinton committed perjury when she testified before a congressional committee about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
The letter from U.S. Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) asserts that evidence collected by the FBI during its investigation involving Clinton’s email practices “appears to directly contradict several aspects of her sworn testimony” and asks federal authorities to “investigate and determine whether to prosecute Secretary Clinton for violating statutes that prohibit perjury and false statements to Congress, or any other relevant statutes.” It is addressed to U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and copied to FBI Director James B. Comey and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
A Justice Department spokeswoman and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District declined to comment. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is scheduled to appear Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, of which Goodlatte is the chairman.
Last week, the Justice Department formally closed its probe into whether classified information was mishandled because of Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state without any criminal charges. Comey said that he believed Clinton was “extremely careless” but that investigators did not find evidence she intended to do wrong with her email setup. He said investigators also concluded that prosecuting Clinton under a law that allowed a criminal case to be built on “gross negligence” would have been virtually unprecedented.
Comey’s extensive public explanations of the FBI’s investigation, though, called into question Clinton’s previous public explanations about her email setup, and congressional Republicans pressed the FBI director to say whether his investigators had looked at possible perjury charges stemming from her testimony before a congressional committee.
At a hearing last week, Chaffetz asked whether the FBI had specifically investigated Clinton’s previous statements, which he considered to be false. Comey said to open a criminal investigation, he would need a referral from Congress.
“You’ll have one. You’ll have one in the next few hours,” said Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Of particular interest might be a statement Clinton made to the House Select Committee on Benghazi in October 2015 that “there was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received.” Comey has said that investigators found three such emails with the notation “(C)” — meaning confidential — contained within the text.
But the FBI director has also said it was possible Clinton “didn’t understand what a ‘C’ meant when she saw it in the body of an email like that.” And a State Department spokesman has said two documents might have been incorrectly marked as classified — though it is not clear whether he and the FBI are referring to the same materials.
Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, wrote on Twitter: “This is another futile, partisan attempt to keep this issue alive now that the Justice Dept has declared it resolved.”
Regardless of whether the U.S. Attorney opens an investigation, Republicans are unlikely to let the conversation about Clinton’s email use go away. The State Department has reopened its internal review into any mishandling of classified information in emails between Clinton and her aides, and that could lead to professional consequences, ranging from a note in her file to some kind of action that might jeopardize her security clearance. Comey has said that while he did not believe Clinton should face criminal charges, an FBI employee “would face consequences for this,” including possible termination.
Separately on Monday, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who chairs the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, sent letters to the Justice Department, State Department, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Intelligence Community and State Department Inspector Generals requesting more information on the Clinton email investigation, especially related to its financial costs.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that a majority of Americans — 56 percent — disapproved of the FBI director’s recommendation not to charge Clinton, and 57 percent said the issue made them at least somewhat worried about how she might handle her responsibilities as president.