WASHINGTON (AP) — Frustrated by the FBI’s decision not to indict Hillary Clinton, congressional Republicans are pressing the agency to launch a new investigation into whether the Democratic presidential candidate lied to Congress during her testimony on the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
The House Benghazi committee met Friday behind closed doors to approve a Republican report on its investigation that found no wrongdoing by Clinton but did reveal that she used a private email server for government business.
Even if lawmakers accept the report, it will not be the final word in the inquiry that has lasted more than two years and cost $7 million. Republicans say they will interview a senior Pentagon official who criticized the GOP-led panel for making costly and unnecessary requests.
Democrats called the planned interview unnecessary and excessive, and they also criticized the Republican majority for meeting in secret to approve the 800-page GOP report.
A “high-profile investigation” that began with hopes of bipartisanship “ends quietly in the basement (of the Capitol complex) in a secret hearing,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the panel.
GOP lawmakers may take a fresh look at Clinton’s testimony that she never sent or received emails marked as classified when she served as secretary of state, and her claims that she only used one mobile device for emails and turned over all of her work-related emails to the State Department.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday he would refer Clinton’s Oct. 22 testimony to the FBI to investigate whether she lied to Congress.
Clinton testified for nearly 11 hours as the star witness called by the Benghazi panel during its investigation of the deadly 2012 attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Clinton was secretary of the state at the time of the attacks.
Separately, the State Department is reopening its internal investigation of possible mishandling of classified information by Clinton and top aides. The internal review was suspended in April to avoid interfering with the FBI inquiry.
Pressed by Chaffetz Thursday on whether Clinton lied, FBI Director James Comey said during a hearing that he had not reviewed Clinton’s testimony because it had not been referred to him by Congress. Chaffetz assured Comey he would soon get a referral.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed the latest GOP move as purely political.
“So let’s get this straight: This is going to be an investigation of the decision that is an investigation of the emails that was part of the investigation of Benghazi,” she told reporters. “So we had an investigation of the investigation of the investigation. How long can this go on?”
Pelosi spoke as Comey testified before the oversight panel on why he did not recommend charges against Clinton over use of her home email server. Comey said his team found no evidence that Clinton lied under oath or broke the law by discussing classified information in an unclassified setting.
Under an onslaught of Republican criticism, Comey vigorously defended the government’s decision and rejected GOP accusations that the presidential candidate was given special treatment.
To criminally charge Clinton based on the facts his agency’s yearlong probe had found would have been unwarranted and mere “celebrity-hunting,” Comey said.
In nearly five hours of testimony, Comey sought to explain the Justice Department’s decision ending an investigation that has dogged Clinton’s presidential campaign and raised fresh questions among voters about her trustworthiness.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans have asked Comey to release all unclassified findings of the FBI’s yearlong investigation. Ryan also has asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to bar Clinton from receiving classified briefings for the rest of the campaign.
A group of Republicans senators has introduced legislation to strip Clinton of her security clearance.
During an exchange with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Comey confirmed that the FBI’s investigation found at least three emails with classified markings on Clinton’s server, despite Clinton’s assertion during the Benghazi hearing that she had neither sent nor received any items marked classified.
The State Department says human error was responsible for a pair of Hillary Clinton emails the FBI identified as marked classified when they were sent.
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
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