Forty-four House Republicans called for a special prosecutor to investigate the scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server in a letter hand-delivered to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday.
“Members of the military and intelligence communities have been — and continue to be — prosecuted for infractions potentially less egregious,” Representative Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) said in a statement. “Secretary Clinton is not above the rule of law. It is critically important that this investigation is conducted impartially and that the decision to prosecute does not hinge on political considerations.”
DeSantis delivered the letter to Lynch at a House Judiciary Committee hearing which saw Republicans raise questions about political pressure being brought to bear on Department of Justice investigations. President Obama’s public statements on various probes, such as the targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS and the FBI investigation of Clinton’s e-mail scandal.
Obama defended Clinton’s use of a private server for all of her government work in an October interview. “I don’t think it posed a national security problem,” he told CBS. “This is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”
#share#Even before that statement, GOP lawmakers and conservative activists had spent months calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed to Clinton’s case. “Democrat political appointees at the Justice Department cannot be expected to thoroughly investigate a person who may turn out to be the Democrat nominee for President of the United States,” David Bossie of Citizens United, which first called for the special prosecutor in July, said in a statement Tuesday. “Furthermore, Attorney General Lynch has a personal conflict of interest in this matter since President Bill Clinton appointed her United States Attorney in 1999.”
Lynch promised that Obama’s comments would have no influence on the outcome of the investigation. “We take all the appropriate steps in every matter that we review,” she told House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte Tuesday. “That is how we will essentially manage every matter under our purview, whether it relates to the IRS, to an e-mail matter or every matter that comes before us. And with respect to the president’s comments, they have no influence or bearing on how the department manages these matters, and I would have to refer you to him for a review of those.”
#related#Representative Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) allowed that Lynch and FBI Director James Comey might not be swayed by Obama’s comments, but insisted that they are damaging nonetheless. “I promise you, it impacts the perception of my fellow citizens when the person who is responsible for executing the laws in this country prejudges the outcome of investigations,” Gowdy told Lynch. “It may not impact the reality, but I promise you it impacts the perceptions, and that’s equally dangerous.”
It’s not the first time that Obama has been criticized for commenting on ongoing investigations. A military-court judge ruled that he exerted “unlawful command influence” in 2013 by enumerating the punishments that he wants meted out to service-members convicted of sexual assault.
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.