Following FBI Director James Comey’s announcement yesterday that his agency wouldn’t recommend a criminal indictment of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, Republican lawmakers wasted no time demanding an investigation into the FBI’s investigation.
Just 47 hours will have passed between the beginning of Comey’s press statement Tuesday and his first appearance in front of a hostile House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, made it plain yesterday that he expects the inquiry to stretch well beyond Comey, to include at least the inspectors general of the intelligence community and of the State Department itself.
The smart money is on Chaffetz finding plenty of other people he wants to interview as well, assuring that the question of Clinton’s private email server remains in the public eye for ... well ... as long as Chaffetz feels like keeping it there.
And, make no mistake, this is just a taste of what awaits the nation between now and November and -- if Clinton is elected president -- for the next four to eight years.
It’s become something like a law of nature that as long as there is a Clinton anywhere near the levers of power in the executive branch, there will be an endless series of investigations and, if need be, investigations of other people’s investigations, aimed at either driving them out or at least crippling their political agenda.
There are Republicans in Congress who have spent a large segment of the last 25 years investigating either Hillary Clinton or her husband. The list is depressingly familiar: Whitewater, Travelgate, Monica Lewinsky, Filegate, Paula Jones, Troopergate, Juanita Broaddrick, Benghazi ... and those are just the ones that had at least a scintilla of credibility.
A committee chairman once demanded that the Clintons provide a detailed accounting of how they replied to letters that children addressed to Socks, the White House cat. “Who pays for the postage?” he demanded.
Of course, for all the absurd and abusive investigations of the Clintons, there have been plenty of substantive inquiries into serious issues. And that’s because there are two sides to the coin. Yes, Congressional Republicans seem to be obsessed with investigating the Clintons. But there is also no denying that the Clintons keep handing them excuses to investigate them in the first place.
The email scandal that Comey’s FBI sent a year investigating is a prime example. As the FBI director made abundantly clear on Tuesday, even if it didn’t rise to the level of criminality, Clinton’s decision to use an unsecured private email server for her work-related email was wildly irresponsible and may well have resulted in hostile foreign governments gaining access to top secret materials.
Bill Clinton’s inexplicable decision to have a surprise one-on-one visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch last week -- while his wife was still under investigation by the Justice Department -- is another.
And if history is any guide, should they win their way back into the White House, the Clintons won’t stop behaving as though the normal rules don’t apply to them.
And if the Clintons don’t change, there’s no reason to expect Republicans in Congress will either.
And that means that by this time next year, there may well be a whole bunch of new investigations into new scandalous “gates” clogging up the Congressional calendar, making an already unproductive institution that much more ineffective.