Republican lawmakers grilled Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday over why she chose not to prosecute Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for sending classified data through her private e-mail server when she was secretary of state.
But the Obama appointee refused to answer, saying it would be “inappropriate” to respond to lawmakers’ repeated questions.
Respondents’ answers depended largely on their political affiliation.
“While I understand that this investigation has generated significant public interest, as attorney general, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on the underlying facts of the investigation or the legal basis for the team’s recommendation,” Lynch told the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
Halfway through the more than two-hour hearing, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the committee’s chairman, said that the attorney general’s refusal to prosecute and answer questions was an “abdication of your responsibility.” Before that, he said Lynch’s decision last week not to prosecute “defies logic and the law.”
“Were a rank-and-file federal employee to do what Secretary Clinton did, they would face severe punishment, including termination, revocation of security clearances, or criminal prosecution,” Goodlatte said.
Goodlatte said that Clinton’s “extreme carelessness” likely jeopardized the nation’s security and that, if Clinton is elected president, “she cannot be trusted with the nation’s most sensitive secrets.”
Lynch told the committee that “all the relevant facts were considered and investigated thoroughly” before she accepted the recommendation last week by FBI Director James Comey not to prosecute.
The highly tense hearing came a day after a poll showed that a majority of Americans said they disagreed with Comey’s decision, which Lynch said she would accept even before Comey had announced it. Also on Monday, GOP lawmakers asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Clinton committed perjury on this issue.
“Are you aware that Hillary Clinton has repeatedly lied to the public …