Two powerful House Republican chairmen announced Tuesday that they would jointly investigate the Justice Department’s handling of its 2016 Hillary Clinton investigation — a potential counter-punch to the FBI probe of the Trump campaign’s Russia connections that drew quick condemnation from Democrats.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said they have a host of questions about the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s treatment of classified information. They’re also seeking more information about the agency’s ongoing investigation into campaign associates of President Donald Trump.
“Our justice system is represented by a blind-folded woman holding a set of scales. Those scales do not tip to the right or the left; they do not recognize wealth, power, or social status,” the duo said in a statement. “The impartiality of our justice system is the bedrock of our republic and our fellow citizens must have confidence in its objectivity, independence, and evenhandedness… No entity or individual is exempt from oversight.”
Republicans have long accused the Justice Department of letting Clinton off easy. Former FBI chief James Comey announced months before the 2016 election that Clinton had mishandled classified documents but that no charges would be brought.
The far-right is still fuming more than a year later — especially now that the agency is probing the leader of their party, President Donald Trump, and whether his campaign colluded with Moscow to win the election.
The new line of investigative inquiry could give Republicans a response to any findings that may cast Trump and his associates in a negative light. Trump himself — and some House Republicans — have made no secret of their belief that the FBI’s current Russia investigation is a “witch-hunt” and a “hoax.”
Goodlatte and Gowdy said they want to re-examine why the FBI decided to announce an end to the Clinton probe but did not publicly disclose the investigation into campaign associates of Trump.
They also want answers on why the FBI notified Congress of the status of the Clinton investigation in October and November 2016, as well as the FBI’s apparent decision to “appropriate full decision making in respect to charging or not charging Secretary Clinton to the FBI rather than the DOJ.”
Democrats blasted the announcement.
“This new investigation is a massive diversion to distract from the lack of Republican oversight of the Trump Administration and the national security threat that Russia poses,” said Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and John Conyers Jr., the top Democrats on the Oversight and Judiciary panels, respectively.
“Apparently, House Republicans are more concerned about Jim Comey than Vladimir Putin,” they added.