WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey is testifying before Congress Thursday to answer “important questions” about the Hillary Clinton email investigation and his recommendation that the Justice Department not prosecute the former Secretary of State even though classified information was found on her private email server.
While he criticized her conduct and called her handling of sensitive information “extremely careless,” Comey’s decision not to recommend charges against Clinton or her aides has been roundly criticized by Republicans.
“The FBI’s recommendation is surprising and confusing,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz said Wednesday in a statement. “The fact pattern presented by Director Comey makes clear Secretary Clinton violated the law. Individuals who intentionally skirt the law must be held accountable. Congress and the American people have a right to understand the depth and breadth of the FBI’s investigation. I thank Director Comey for accepting the invitation to publicly answer these important questions.”
Clinton’s campaign hit back against Chaffetz Wednesday afternoon, releasing a web video featuring Chaffetz suggesting he would accept Comey’s decision.
“Shockingly, Chaffetz has not stood by that,” the Clinton campaign said in a statement, adding, “Just like the House Benghazi Committee before them, Chaffetz and his fellow Republicans refuse to accept the findings from any independent investigation if it doesn’t fit their partisan conspiracy theory. They are so desperate to continue attacking Hillary Clinton over the issue of her emails that they are contradicting themselves in challenging the integrity of the director of the FBI.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said lawmakers would ask the director to explain how he could square his scolding of Clinton’s decisions with his suggestion that she is not legally culpable.
“We’re going to have hearings,” Ryan told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly Tuesday. “There are a lot of unanswered questions here.”
Ryan also recommended that the Director of National Intelligence “should block her access to classified information” as a form of punishment.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions here,” Ryan said, though he did would not say that Comey folded to political pressure when asked.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters at a news conference later Wednesday that Clinton should release all her transcripts and communications with the FBI. But when he was asked twice by CNN if presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump — whom McConnell has frequently criticized — should also receive classified briefings, McConnell would not answer.
Comey told reporters on Tuesday that he had not informed either the Justice Department or the White House of his recommendation not to prosecute Clinton before going public with it.