FBI chief faces grilling over Hillary Clinton decision

Angry House Republicans plan to investigate FBI director James Comey’s decision against pressing criminal charges for Hillary Clinton over her handling of classified emails.

House speaker Paul Ryan said Comey’s decision defies explanation and leaves many questions unanswered. The oversight and government reform committee called Comey to testify today, and the judiciary panel announced that attorney general Loretta Lynch would appear next week.

“The FBI should give us all of their findings,” Ryan said, claiming Clinton is “competing for commander-in-chief here, so I think there’s a whole accounting that needs to happen”.

Jason Chaffetz, chair of the committee, said Comey would testify before his panel today. “The FBI’s recommendation is surprising and confusing,” he said.

“The fact pattern presented by director Comey makes clear secretary Clinton violated the law. Individuals who intentionally skirt the law must be held accountable.”

Democrats on the committee attacked the decision as political. “Republican after Republican praised director Comey’s impeccable record of independence — right up until the moment he issued his conclusion,” said the committee’s top Democrat, Elijah Cummings.

“The only emergency here is that yet another Republican conspiracy theory is slipping away.”

The FBI is supposed to be insulated from partisanship, with directors appointed to serve 10-year terms under legislation passed in 1976 following J Edgar Hoover’s extraordinary 48-year tenure. Comey is a Republican first nominated to a senior justice department post by George W Bush and tapped to lead the FBI in 2013 by President Barack Obama.

Comey’s declaration that “no charges are appropriate” against Clinton is drawing a deluge of Republican criticism, even though Comey prefaced it by calling Clinton “extremely careless” in her handling of highly sensitive information. He also suggested she sent emails with information that was classified at the time, contrary to her previous claims.

“What really just mystifies me is the case he makes and then the conclusion he draws, and what bothers me about this is the Clintons really are living above the law. They’re being held by different set of standards. That is clearly what this looks like,” said Ryan.

“And this is why we’re going to have hearings, and this is why I think that Comey should give us all the publicly available information to see how and why they reached these conclusions.”

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