How Will House Republicans Go After Hillary Clinton?

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, left, confers with House Select Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in July. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, left, confers with House Select Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in July. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The end is fi­nally in sight for the House Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Benghazi. The pan­el’s Re­pub­lic­ans still haven’t form­ally sub­mit­ted their long-fin­ished re­port to the full House, which sets a 30-day clock tick­ing on the group that the GOP cre­ated in mid-2014. But GOP lead­er­ship and com­mit­tee aides con­firm that it won’t be rolled over in­to the next Con­gress.

Non­ethe­less, the end of the pan­el that helped un­cov­er Hil­lary Clin­ton’s private email serv­er is hardly the end of House Re­pub­lic­ans’ ag­gress­ive over­sight of the wo­man favored to be­come the next pres­id­ent.

As­sum­ing Clin­ton wins—and per­haps even if she doesn’t—Re­pub­lic­ans will con­tin­ue probes in­to Clin­ton’s email setup and the FBI’s hand­ling of the case and the Clin­ton Found­a­tion. What isn’t clear yet is what form those in­vest­ig­a­tions will take, and how many prom­in­ent GOP law­makers will get a chance to take on a huge tar­get.

House Speak­er Paul Ry­an has already ended former Speak­er John Boehner’s de­cision to keep the email probe housed in the Benghazi pan­el, un­shack­ling Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Chair­man Jason Chaf­fetz to pur­sue Clin­ton-re­lated in­quir­ies.

House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Bob Good­latte has joined Chaf­fetz in prob­ing the FBI’s re­com­mend­a­tion against char­ging Clin­ton. Even Sci­ence, Space and Tech­no­logy Com­mit­tee Chair­man Lamar Smith has got­ten in on the act in re­cent months with his own in­quiry that has fo­cused on private in­form­a­tion-tech­no­logy firms in­volved with Clin­ton’s email setup and the sys­tem’s se­cur­ity.

However, one former Over­sight aide said it’s not a free-for-all.

“I think they already are work­ing very closely to­geth­er, wherever it makes sense to do so. I think lead­er­ship is very much in the loop as well help­ing to as­sign and man­age lanes,” the former aide said.

The email scan­dal is un­der even bright­er lights fol­low­ing FBI Dir­ect­or James Comey’s ex­plos­ive let­ter Fri­day in­form­ing Re­pub­lic­ans that the probe of An­thony Wein­er’s sex­ting has un­earthed emails that … may or may not mean any­thing.

For now, it ap­pears that Chaf­fetz’s com­mit­tee will be host to the primary ac­tion when it comes to probes of Clin­ton’s emails, though lead­er­ship aides have not flatly ruled out cre­ation of a new se­lect com­mit­tee.

“The rig­or­ous over­sight con­duc­ted by House Re­pub­lic­ans has already brought to light troub­ling de­vel­op­ments in the Clin­ton email scan­dal. The speak­er sup­ports OGR’s in­vest­ig­at­ive ef­forts fol­low­ing where the evid­ence leads, es­pe­cially where it shows the need for changes in the law,” said Ash­Lee Strong, Ry­an’s press sec­ret­ary.

But Chaf­fetz won’t be alone.

“Be­cause Sec­ret­ary Clin­ton was not forth­com­ing about her use of a private email serv­er to send and re­ceive clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion, a num­ber of ques­tions still re­main and have not been answered by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said a GOP aide on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

“The House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee will con­tin­ue to seek an­swers about Sec­ret­ary Clin­ton’s un­au­thor­ized use of a private email serv­er,” the aide said.

And if some Re­pub­lic­ans really went nuc­le­ar and tried to im­peach Clin­ton, any hear­ings for that ef­fort would have to go through the Ju­di­ciary pan­el too. (Tech­nic­ally an in­di­vidu­al mem­ber could bring a priv­ileged im­peach­ment res­ol­u­tion straight to the House floor, as Rep. John Flem­ing sought to do against IRS Com­mis­sion­er John Koskin­en.)

It will be a del­ic­ate bal­an­cing act for House Re­pub­lic­ans and Ry­an in par­tic­u­lar. Mem­bers are eager to shine a bright light on Clin­ton, but Ry­an must also find a way to avoid the ap­pear­ance that the House is trans­form­ing it­self in­to a big op­pos­i­tion-re­search op­er­a­tion.

Mi­chael Steel, a former top aide to Boehner, said there are a “num­ber of areas of le­git­im­ate in­quiry” in­to Clin­ton. The struc­ture of the GOP probes, he said, is not that im­port­ant to the pub­lic.

“I think the com­mit­tees have a re­spons­ib­il­ity to con­duct re­spons­ible over­sight and that is what I ex­pect they will do. I don’t know that voters care about the de­tails of wheth­er there are mul­tiple com­mit­tees in­volved, or a single se­lect or spe­cial com­mit­tee,” Steel said.

“Wash­ing­ton Demo­crats will com­plain about a ‘tax­pay­er-fun­ded fish­ing ex­ped­i­tion’ wheth­er you do a deep-sea charter or toss a line from a cane pole in­to a creek,” he said.

But Demo­crats say there are already signs that Re­pub­lic­ans are plan­ning to ag­gress­ively un­der­mine a Clin­ton pres­id­ency. In re­cent days, Demo­crats and Clin­ton aides have pounced on com­ments by Jason Chaf­fetz, who told The Wash­ing­ton Post that Clin­ton’s re­cord is a “tar­get-rich en­vir­on­ment.”

“Even be­fore we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of ma­ter­i­al already lined up. She has four years of his­tory at the State De­part­ment, and it ain’t good,” Chaf­fetz told the pa­per.

Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podesta, on a call with re­port­ers over the week­end, used Chaf­fetz’s words against him when at­tack­ing Chaf­fetz’s char­ac­ter­iz­a­tion of Comey’s an­nounce­ment.

“It is not sur­pris­ing that Con­gress­man Chaf­fetz would take the op­por­tun­ity to dis­tort the facts to mount an at­tack on Hil­lary Clin­ton. This is someone who has prom­ised to launch years of new Hil­lary Clin­ton in­vest­ig­a­tions when she is pres­id­ent,” he said.

Oth­er Demo­crats have seized on the GOP’s plans too.

“It’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that on the first day Sec­ret­ary Clin­ton walks in­to the White House, Re­pub­lic­ans will have already in­vest­ig­ated her more than any oth­er pres­id­ent in his­tory,” said Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings, the top Demo­crat on the Over­sight and Benghazi pan­els.

As for the Benghazi pan­el, which is­sued its re­port over the sum­mer, GOP aides con­firmed Monday that it’s in­deed com­ing to a close in this Con­gress. (The Post had re­por­ted that Rep. Jim Jordan, an ag­gress­ive Clin­ton crit­ic, said re­cently that he wants it to con­tin­ue. His spokes­man did not re­spond to an in­quiry.)

“The se­lect com­mit­tee on Benghazi will not be re­newed. The stand­ing com­mit­tees have all the au­thor­ity needed, should any fur­ther ac­tion be re­quired,” a GOP lead­er­ship aide said.

Benghazi com­mit­tee spokes­man Jamal Ware said that the com­mit­tee is “in the pro­cess of clear­ing doc­u­ments with the ad­min­is­tra­tion for pub­lic re­lease and archiv­ing re­cords.”

“The FBI and oth­er con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tees may ex­am­ine mat­ters dis­covered as a con­sequence of the Benghazi com­mit­tee’s in­vest­ig­a­tion, but it won’t be this com­mit­tee, which, as I said re­peatedly, was only in­vest­ig­at­ing the Benghazi ter­ror­ist at­tacks,” he said.

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