WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican lawmakers are expressing frustration about what they say is a lack of information from the Justice Department about Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of a private email account and server while she was secretary of state.
Published reports this week cited anonymous government officials as saying the FBI has succeeded in recovering deleted emails from Clinton's server.
A lawyer for the Democratic presidential candidate provided the device to the FBI last month after he said all emails had been removed and printed copies of all nonpersonal messages provided to the State Department. Federal investigators are looking into Clinton's home-based server amid concerns that classified information may have passed through the system.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday that the Justice Department is keeping him in the dark about whether a criminal investigation is underway into Clinton's use of private email.
"You know it is getting a little absurd when someone at the Justice Department is apparently leaking details to the press about an investigation that the department officially refuses to admit to Congress that it is conducting," Grassley said.
The senator was referring to stories published Tuesday by Bloomberg News and The New York Times reporting that some messages had been recovered. Both stories were based on unnamed sources.
Potentially at issue is whether Clinton withheld any work-related emails from the roughly 30,000 messages she provided to the State Department. She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said she has provided copies of all the messages she was required to turn over.
Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch last week asking whether the department would deem a preliminary offer of immunity to a computer specialist who helped set up the server as a waiver of his constitutional rights against self-incrimination. Lynch called that a "hypothetical scenario" that she could not answer and declined to confirm or deny whether an investigation was ongoing, citing a longstanding policy at Justice.
Grassley called Lynch's answer disappointing.
"The Justice Department is giving us less information than normal when they should be giving us more, so that we can make an informed decision about whether to seek an immunity order" for computer expert Bryan Pagliano, Grassley said.
Grassley also called on the FBI to provide clarity on how it will handle the emails now that they have been recovered from the server.
"Allowing an independent authority to search for records that were requested by Congress, the inspector general, the press and the public years ago, and then providing the records to the appropriate requesters, would be a welcome move in transparency," Grassley said in a statement.
Pagliano has refused to answer questions about his role in setting up Clinton's server. His lawyers say Pagliano does not want to relinquish his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Clinton has been dogged for months by questions about her use of the private email account. Johnson said he is hopeful the public will know more about whether Clinton's decision to rely on a private server compromised national security.
"On an issue of such importance, we must fully understand Secretary Clinton's decision to use a private email server and its consequences to our nation," he said Wednesday.
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