Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., asked Monday whether political favoritism is sheltering Hillary Clinton from a possible indictment over the classified information that was stored and sent through Clinton's private email system.
In a letter to the Justice Department, DeSantis noted as an example that Attorney General Loretta Lynch was appointed as a U.S. Attorney in 1999 by Bill Clinton, and said that could create a conflict at the department on whether to indict Clinton. "Does the Department of Justice consider this a conflict of interest in the context of a federal investigation involving President Clinton's spouse?" DeSantis asked.
DeSantis posed that question and others after Justice Department officials brushed off his initial request for information, in a letter hand-delivered to Lynch, that DOJ appoint a special prosecutor to ensure that Clinton's case is handled by someone who doesn't have an interest in her 2016 presidential campaign. His follow-up comes as Clinton is under renewed pressure to explain how classified information came to be on her server, and why her closest aides insisted that she have an independent email network, rather than a government account, even in her State Department office.
The State Department last week withheld 22 of the work-related emails that Clinton released from her private server, and has said more than 1,300 have contained classified information. "As evidence pointing to the mishandling of classified information mounts, it is critically important that the Department of Justice investigation into Secretary Clinton's unsecured e-mail is conducted in a fair and impartial manner," DeSantis said. "Yet, the Obama administration's continued public remarks prejudging the outcome of this ongoing investigation have called any pretense of impartiality into question."
DeSantis hand-delivered his first request for a special counsel to Lynch when she testified before the House Judiciary Committee in November, but DOJ brushed it off. "This authority has rarely been exercised," assistant attorney general Peter Kadzik replied on November 23 in a four-paragraph note obtained by the Washington Examiner.
"Any investigation related to this referral will be conducted by law enforcement professionals and career attorneys in accordance with established Department policies and procedures designed to ensure the integrity of all ongoing investigations."
That emphasis on "career attorneys" rather than political staff handling the investigation did little to assure DeSantis, who replied by asking if Kadzik himself feels compromised by political motives. "President Obama's political appointees, including yourself, are being asked to impartially execute their respective duties as Department of Justice officials that may involve an investigation into the activities of the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States," he asked. "Does the Department of Justice consider this a conflict of interest?"