Republicans are stepping up pressure on the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor in the Hillary Clinton email investigation as the administration signals its intention to fall in line behind the presumptive Democratic nominee.
"If there was ever a case for an independent counsel, this is it," Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., told the Washington Examiner Monday.
"If they don't appoint an independent counsel, I think that's almost, in part, an admission of guilt," Huelskamp added. "If they weren't afraid of that, they would appoint an independent counsel."
GOP lawmakers and activists have pointed to President Obama's decision to endorse Clinton and campaign alongside her as evidence that the Justice Department's investigation is vulnerable to at least the perception of political bias.
"Barack Obama endorses Hillary Clinton, campaigns for Hillary Clinton, but he expects us to believe he'll be impartial in investigating Hillary Clinton?" Rep. John Fleming, R-La., told the Examiner.
Fleming and Huelskamp were among 44 Republican lawmakers who signed a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the fall demanding the Justice Department consider naming an independent counsel to the Clinton email probe.
House Republicans renewed their push last week amid speculation that Obama's endorsement of Clinton could tip the scales in favor of the former secretary of state.
Lynch raised eyebrows Sunday when she dodged questions about whether a special prosecutor is needed to allay public concern during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"We conduct this investigation as we conduct all of them: career prosecutors and agents, free from politics. The review will continue, they follow the facts, they follow the law, they'll come to a conclusion," Lynch said.
"You don't think you need to recuse yourself in this position at all?" host Chuck Todd asked.
The attorney general declined to answer Todd's questions about why the Justice Department has failed to name a special prosecutor for the case in an effort to eliminate speculation that political bias could play a role in sparing Clinton from charges.
"We don't talk about how we're going to deal with the internal workings of the Justice Department, but this will be handled like any other matter," Lynch said.
David Bossie, president of the conservative group Citizens United, suggested Monday the administration has demonstrated an inappropriate level of support for a person under FBI investigation.
"Democrat political appointees at the Department of Justice — including Loretta Lynch — can't be expected to make unbiased prosecutorial decisions about their own nominee for president," Bossie said.
Bossie cited Obama's full-throated endorsement of Clinton on June 9 and noted the president met with Lynch at the White House just hours later.
"Then Loretta Lynch appears on television to say she's never discussed the Clinton email case with President Obama and that she's treating it like any other case that comes down the pike," he said.
Bossie accused the attorney general of pursuing a "nothing to see here" strategy to downplay a case that could have dramatic implications for the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
Clinton and her aides have been suspected of mishandling classified material through a private email network that was hosted on a server in the basement of Clinton's home.
While Clinton and her allies have dismissed the investigation as a routine "security review," FBI Director James Comey and White House spokesman Josh Earnest have acknowledged the criminal element of the probe.
"The Obama administration has zero credibility. None," Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., told the Examiner Monday. "The president and his bureaucratic minions have demonstrated time and time again that the rule of law does not apply to them."
Calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor began shortly after the FBI opened its investigation in July, when Citizens United launched its first push against a situation that could allow political appointees to influence the probe's outcome.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, began pressing Lynch to consider naming an independent counsel in September. Cornyn remains one of the most vocal advocates of the appointment, which would remove the decision of whether to indict Clinton from the Justice Department and concentrate it in the hands of an attorney outside the government.
Special prosecutors were appointed during Nixon's presidency, when voters expressed concerns that the seemingly corrupt administration could not investigate itself.
A special prosecutor was also appointed during the Iran-Contra scandal in 1986, and again during President Bill Clinton's tenure amid a string of controversies that led to his impeachment by the House.
In addition to highlighting Obama's endorsement as a potential source of bias, Republicans have noted that Lynch was named a U.S. attorney by Bill Clinton in 1999 and that Hillary Clinton has received hundreds of campaign donations from Justice Department officials.
In fact, employees at the Justice Department have given nearly $85,000 to Clinton's presidential campaign to date, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Fleming said Obama's actions reflect a desire to maintain control over all aspects of the Clinton email case rather than allow justice to occur on its own.
"When that happens, you have corruption," Fleming said, "and that will be his legacy."