Republican lawmakers Tuesday lambasted Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch over her refusal to discuss the details of the Justice Department’s recent decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for using a private email server as secretary of State.
As a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee stretched into the afternoon, GOP representatives grew increasingly frustrated and angry as they pushed Lynch – without success – to answer their specific questions about the email probe.
Lynch responded time and time again that she had accepted the unanimous recommendation of career agents and prosecutors, including FBI Director James Comey. But she said it would be “inappropriate to comment further” on the facts of the case or the decision-making process.
Lynch also faced criticism from lawmakers over her decision to meet with former President Clinton last month, which she has previously admitted cast a shadow over the Justice Department’s probe.
Following the uproar over that meeting, Lynch publicly announced that she would remove herself from the final decision about whether to file charges, saying she would abide by the recommendation of Comey and career prosecutors.
“The buck stops with you,’’ Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte called her refusal to discuss the matter an “abdication of your responsibility.”
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and several others said the decision against filing charges gave the appearance of a double standard in Clinton’s favor because of her political power.
At one point, an exasperated Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) told Lynch he was frustrated with what he called the lack of ownership within the Department of Justice.
“I miss Eric Holder,” Collins said, referring to the Lynch’s predecessor, who had a notoriously frosty relationship with congressional Republicans. Collins said that he may not have liked the answers that Holder gave, but that at least he answered questions.
Lynch vigorously defended the department’s handling of the case as independent and objective. She said career agents and prosecutors, not political appointees, reviewed the case and made the recommendation.
She said repeatedly she was proud of the work they had done.
The committee divided along party lines in its questioning, with Republicans focusing on Clinton’s email server and Democrats instead focusing on the Orlando, Fla., terror attack, the need for law enforcement reform, the recent police shootings of black men, the killings in Dallas of five police officers and strategies for repairing relationships between police and minority communities.
Democrats accused Republicans of politicizing the email scandal to hurt the presumed Democratic nominee.
Comey, testifying last week before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, defended the agency’s investigation into Clinton’s email server and reiterated that a criminal case against the presumptive Democratic nominee would not hold up in court.
Comey stated there was “no basis to believe” Clinton lied to the FBI during its investigation and assured committee members there was no political motivation to the timing of Comey’s announcement or the agency’s decision to recommend charges not be filed.
Lynch was scheduled to testify before the House committee before Comey announced his decision. Her submitted testimony focused on the killings of five Dallas police officers by Micah Xavier Johnson, an Army veteran apparently angry over police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
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1:29 p.m.: The story was updated after the hearing’s conclusion.
9:33 a.m.: The story was updated with additional comments from the hearing.
8:35 a.m.: The story was updated with additional comments from the hearing.
7:53 a.m.: The story was updated after Lynch’s opening statement.
7:11 a.m.: This story was updated once the hearing began.
This story was originally published at 5 a.m.