AG Lynch stonewalls Congress on Clinton email prosecution decision
During a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to answer specific questions 74 times, angering House Republicans while throwing a smokescreen over the decision-making process regarding the prosecution of Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch repeatedly dodged and deflected specific questions Tuesday on the FBI’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s email use, referring Republicans to the FBI director instead of answering them herself – and leading to heated exchanges with top Republicans over the course of several hours of testimony.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Lynch’s “lack of clarity is bad for the republic.”
During questioning before the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, also asked about the legality of sharing classified information outside the proper channels and other issues. Lynch said it would be unfair to give a blanket answer.
“I think you’re sending a terrible message to the world,” Chaffetz said. “The lack of clarity that you give to this body … is pretty stunning.”
The exchanges were in keeping with the tense tone of a hearing where Republican lawmakers struggled – over and over – to draw detailed answers from the nation’s top law enforcement official regarding the decision not to pursue charges against Clinton over her email use.
She repeatedly deferred to FBI Director James Comey’s comments on the case, declining to elaborate herself.
“I would refer you to those statements,” Lynch said. “I, as attorney general, am not able to provide any further comment on the facts or the substance of the investigation.”
Even as Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., noted it was her conclusion in the end on whether to act, Lynch would not comment in detail, specifically when pressed on Comey findings that conflicted with Clinton’s public statements on her email use.
Republicans, though, ramped up their criticism not only of Clinton but of the Justice Department’s handling of the case. Goodlatte said the conclusion not to pursue charges “defies logic and the law” -- and once again criticized her for meeting on a tarmac in Phoenix with former President Bill Clinton just a week before the decision was announced.
“The timing of and circumstances surrounding this announcement are particularly troubling,” he said.
Goodlatte suggested that and other factors could have been grounds for recusal, but Lynch rebuffed the notion. And she insisted that the discussion with the former president was “social” and did not pertain to the email investigation.
Lynch's silence suggests that there wasn't really a legal reason not to prosecute Clinton. She can't explain the thinking of her career prosecutors, nor can she add to Comey's damning statements about how Clinton was "extremely careless" in handling classified information but that didn't mean she should be indicited.
Even more after her testimony, the decision reeks of politics and double standards. That Lynch has difficulty defending the decision on a legal basis should be investigated by the Justice Department inspector general, while Congress should not give up the inquiry.
A solid majority believe that Clinton should have been indicted. Congress owes it to the people to dissect the decision not to prosecute and get to the bottom of how it came to pass.