The political warfare over former secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email entered a new, yet oddly familiar, phase on Tuesday when the Senate’s No. 2 Republican asked the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate the arrangement.
In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) argued Clinton’s “misconduct is evident and her intent -- since the beginning of her tenure as Secretary of State -- to keep information from the public is clear.”
“The present circumstances surrounding her use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State could not be more extraordinary, nor the conflicts greater,” he added. “Americans deserve the assurance that justice -- and justice alone -- is being pursued.”
Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Lynch “has a special duty to pursue justice even when political considerations run counter to doing so. At critical times in our nation’s history, your predecessors have exercised that duty by appointing politically-independent individuals to investigate potential wrongdoing involving senior administration officials.”
His call will no doubt prompt flashbacks to the 1990s when Kenneth Starr was appointed by a three-judge panel to continue the Whitewater investigation into real estate investments by the Clintons and their friends. The examination went on for years and culminated with President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and acquittal.
Cornyn’s effort might seem redundant, considering the email server Clinton used while leading the State Department is currently in the hands of the FBI, which is part of the Justice Department.
The agency is trying to determine what data, including potentially thousands of allegedly personal emails, can be retrieved from the device, even though Clinton and her attorney have repeatedly claimed it has been “wiped clean.”
Both the State and Justice Departments have said Clinton’s unique arrangement was allowed, infuriating many Republicans. Cornyn’s letter indicates that the GOP believes the Obama administration can’t effectively investigate itself and that outside help is required.
In addition to Cornyn’s missive, the chairs of the Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security and Government Affairs panels have asked Lynch if they could request the former Clinton staffer responsible for maintaining her server to waive his Fifth Amendment rights if given immunity to testify behind closed doors.
Last week that man, Bryan Pagliano, evoked his rights against self-incrimination when he testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, with proceedings wrapping up after just a few minutes.
Clinton herself is due to appear before the panel investigating the deadly 2012 assault in Benghazi, Libya, next month and is sure to face questions from the GOP about her email arrangement.