Attorney General Loretta Lynch frustrated House Republicans Tuesday when she repeatedly said that when it came to the decision about prosecuting Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of classified information on a private email server, she deferred to the FBI and career Justice Department prosecutors and wouldn’t share her own opinion on whether Clinton broke the law.
Lynch’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee comes a day after House Republicans formally asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate whether Clinton had lied to Congress last fall when she said she did not have classified information on her server. Last week, FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Oversight Committee about his recommendation to the DOJ to not prosecute Clinton in the matter.
House Republicans asked Lynch if she thought Clinton had broken the law when she set up a private home email system and passed classified information through it during her tenure as secretary of state. Instead, the attorney general repeatedly said her role was to take advice from the career prosecutors and the FBI before making a decision about pursuing charges. Rep. Dave Trott (R-Mich.), said his staff counted more than 70 times during Tuesday’s hearing that Lynch said she couldn’t answer or avoided a direct response to questions.
“Your refusal to answer questions regarding one of the most important investigations of someone who seeks to serve in the highest office in this land is an abdication of your responsibility,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said about halfway through the hearing. “This is a very important issue of whether or not the Justice Department is going to uphold the rule of law in this country, and I hope that with the questions that will be forthcoming now, you will be more forthcoming with answers.”
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) asked just one question before giving up, noting that other members of the committee “have summarily failed, as I just did, to get you to answer even the most reasonable and relevant question.”