- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A top Republican called Tuesday for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to name a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s emails, saying Americans need greater assurance that any wrongdoing will be investigated without fear of political influence from President Obama and his team.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the upper chamber, said Mrs. Clinton‘s public denials about having sent classified information have “proved untrue” and it’s incumbent on the Obama administration to look beyond political considerations and name an outside investigator.

The Texas Republican said Ms. Lynch has a chance to live up the legacy of predecessors who named special counsels to investigate their own bosses.

“The attorney general has a special duty to pursue justice even when political considerations run counter to doing so,” Mr. Cornyn said.

The Justice Department already faces a conflict. It is defending Mrs. Clinton‘s email practices in court, even as it is investigating her handling of her server and the email account she set up for herself during her four years as secretary of state.

The FBI has taken control of Mrs. Clinton‘s server, and a federal judge has prodded the administration to see whether any of Mrs. Clinton‘s deleted emails may be recoverable.

Mr. Cornyn said Mrs. Clinton‘s wrongdoing extends beyond mishandling classified information, and also includes thwarting the Freedom of Information Act by keeping her emails outside of official department records for nearly six years, taking it upon herself to decide which emails to return to the government and which to keep private.

The Clinton campaign has said she followed the laws in place, which give employees the power to decide which emails are government business and which are not. And Mrs. Clinton says none of the information she sent was marked classified at the time.

But at least one federal judge has already said Mrs. Clinton violated policy, and Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that has filed more than a dozen open-records lawsuits trying to pry loose emails from Mrs. Clinton and her aides, says she broke State Department rules that require her, upon leaving government service, to work with open-records specialists to decide which records must be kept.

Polling suggests the email controversy has dented Mrs. Clinton‘s presidential hopes, with 59 percent of voters saying it’s likely she broke the law, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey released Tuesday.

Even among Democrats, 37 percent said it’s likely she broke the law and 16 percent said they think it’s very likely.

Those numbers come as Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, has overtaken Mrs. Clinton in polling in both Iowa and New Hampshire, which hold the first caucuses and primary, respectively, of the 2016 campaign season.

But Mrs. Clinton got backing from the White House Tuesday, where press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama doesn’t think she’s struggling.

“That’s not the president’s view,” Mr. Earnest told reporters. He also repeated the president’s belief that it would be “unwise” to speculate about the outcome of the presidential election 15 months before it takes place.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Wednesday pushed back against Mr. Cornyn’s call for a special counsel, saying it was “purely political and completely unnecessary.”

“Calls for a special counsel to review Secretary Clinton‘s emails are entirely unwarranted,” said Mrs. Feinstein, a California Democrat who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton for president.

“The State Department — in coordination with the intelligence community — is already reviewing Secretary Clinton‘s emails for public release,” she said. “Secretary Clinton has expressed her desire to appear before the House Select Committee on Benghazi to discuss her emails and the Benghazi attacks. She has voluntarily complied with all requests and the process is working.”

Mrs. Feinstein stressed that no wrongdoing by Mrs. Clinton was ever uncovered through numerous congressional probes of the 2012 terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

“Despite all the investigations, the attacks continue. Instead of wasting more taxpayer dollars, the process in place to review and release Secretary Clinton‘s emails, which she has welcomed, should be allowed to continue. Calls for a special counsel are purely political and completely unnecessary,” Mrs. Feinstein said.

Dave Boyer, S.A. Miller and David Sherfinski contributed to this article.

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